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Title: The Purcell Papers — Volume 2
Author: Le Fanu, Joseph Sheridan, 1814-1873
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Purcell Papers — Volume 2" ***

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THE PURCELL PAPERS.

BY THE LATE

JOSEPH SHERIDAN LE FANU,

AUTHOR OF 'UNCLE SILAS.'

With a Memoir by

ALFRED PERCEVAL GRAVES

IN THREE VOLUMES.

VOL. II.


CONTENTS OF VOL. II.

     PASSAGE IN THE SECRET HISTORY OF AN IRISH COUNTESS
     THE BRIDAL OF CARRIGVARAH
     STRANGE EVENT IN THE LIFE OF SCHALKEN THE PAINTER
     SCRAPS OF HIBERNIAN BALLADS



PASSAGE IN THE SECRET HISTORY OF AN IRISH COUNTESS.

     Being a Fifth Extract from the Legacy of the late Francis
     Purcell, P.P. of Drumcoolagh.

The following paper is written in a female hand, and was no doubt
communicated to my much-regretted friend by the lady whose early history
it serves to illustrate, the Countess D----. She is no more--she long
since died, a childless and a widowed wife, and, as her letter sadly
predicts, none survive to whom the publication of this narrative can
prove 'injurious, or even painful.' Strange! two powerful and wealthy
families, that in which she was born, and that into which she had
married, have ceased to be--they are utterly extinct.

To those who know anything of the history of Irish families, as they
were less than a century ago, the facts which immediately follow will
at once suggest THE NAMES of the principal actors; and to others
their publication would be useless--to us, possibly, if not probably,
injurious. I have, therefore, altered such of the names as might, if
stated, get us into difficulty; others, belonging to minor characters in
the strange story, I have left untouched.


My dear friend,--You have asked me to furnish you with a detail of
the strange events which marked my early history, and I have, without
hesitation, applied myself to the task, knowing that, while I live, a
kind consideration for my feelings will prevent your giving publicity
to the statement; and conscious that, when I am no more, there will not
survive one to whom the narrative can prove injurious, or even painful.

My mother died when I was quite an infant, and of her I have no
recollection, even the faintest. By her death, my education and habits
were left solely to the guidance of my surviving parent; and, as far
as a stern attention to my religious instruction, and an active anxiety
evinced by his procuring for me the best masters to perfect me in those
accomplishments which my station and wealth might seem to require, could
avail, he amply discharged the task.

My father was what is called an oddity, and his treatment of me, though
uniformly kind, flowed less from affection and tenderness than from a
sense of obligation and duty. Indeed, I seldom even spoke to him except
at meal-times, and then his manner was silent and abrupt; his leisure
hours, which were many, were passed either in his study or in solitary
walks; in short, he seemed to take no further interest in my happiness
or improvement than a conscientious regard to the discharge of his own
duty would seem to claim.

Shortly before my birth a circumstance had occurred which had
contributed much to form and to confirm my father's secluded habits--it
was the fact that a suspicion of MURDER had fallen upon his younger
brother, though not sufficiently definite to lead to an indictment, yet
strong enough to ruin him in public opinion.

This disgraceful and dreadful doubt cast upon the family name, my
father felt deeply and bitterly, and not the less so that he himself
was thoroughly convinced of his brother's innocence. The sincerity and
strength of this impression he shortly afterwards proved in a manner
which produced the dark events which follow. Before, however, I enter
upon the statement of them, I ought to relate the circumstances which
had awakened the suspicion; inasmuch as they are in themselves somewhat
curious, and, in their effects, most intimately connected with my
after-history.

My uncle, Sir Arthur T----n, was a gay and extravagant man, and,
among other vices, was ruinously addicted to gaming; this unfortunate
propensity, even after his fortune had suffered so severely as to render
inevitable a reduction in his expenses by no means inconsiderable,
nevertheless continued to actuate him, nearly to the exclusion of all
other pursuits; he was, however, a proud, or rather a vain man,
and could not bear to make the diminution of his income a matter of
gratulation and triumph to those with whom he had hitherto competed, and
the consequence was, that he frequented no longer the expensive haunts
of dissipation, and retired from the gay world, leaving his coterie to
discover his reasons as best they might.

He did not, however, forego his favourite vice, for, though he could not
worship his great divinity in the costly temples where it was formerly
his wont to take his stand, yet he found it very possible to bring about
him a sufficient number of the votaries of chance to answer all his
ends. The consequence was, that Carrickleigh, which was the name of my
uncle's residence, was never without one or more of such visitors as I
have described.

It happened that upon one occasion he was visited by one Hugh Tisdall,
a gentleman of loose habits, but of considerable wealth, and who had, in
early youth, travelled with my uncle upon the Continent; the period of
his visit was winter, and, consequently, the house was nearly deserted
excepting by its regular inmates; it was therefore highly acceptable,
particularly as my uncle was aware that his visitor's tastes accorded
exactly with his own.

Both parties seemed determined to avail themselves of their suitability
during the brief stay which Mr. Tisdall had promised; the consequence
was, that they shut themselves up in Sir Arthur's private room for
nearly all the day and the greater part of the night, during the space
of nearly a week, at the end of which the servant having one morning,
as usual, knocked at Mr. Tisdall's bedroom door repeatedly, received no
answer, and, upon attempting to enter, found that it was locked; this
appeared suspicious, and, the inmates of the house having been alarmed,
the door was forced open, and, on proceeding to the bed, they found the
body of its occupant perfectly lifeless, and hanging half-way out, the
head downwards, and near the floor. One deep wound had been inflicted
upon the temple, apparently with some blunt instrument which had
penetrated the brain; and another blow, less effective, probably the
first aimed, had grazed the head, removing some of the scalp, but
leaving the skull untouched. The door had been double-locked upon the
INSIDE, in evidence of which the key still lay where it had been placed
in the lock.

The window, though not secured on the interior, was closed--a
circumstance not a little puzzling, as it afforded the only other mode
of escape from the room; it looked out, too, upon a kind of courtyard,
round which the old buildings stood, formerly accessible by a narrow
doorway and passage lying in the oldest side of the quadrangle, but
which had since been built up, so as to preclude all ingress or egress;
the room was also upon the second story, and the height of the window
considerable. Near the bed were found a pair of razors belonging to the
murdered man, one of them upon the ground, and both of them open. The
weapon which had inflicted the mortal wound was not to be found in
the room, nor were any footsteps or other traces of the murderer
discoverable.

At the suggestion of Sir Arthur himself, a coroner was instantly
summoned to attend, and an inquest was held; nothing, however, in any
degree conclusive was elicited; the walls, ceiling, and floor of
the room were carefully examined, in order to ascertain whether they
contained a trap-door or other concealed mode of entrance--but no such
thing appeared.

Such was the minuteness of investigation employed, that, although the
grate had contained a large fire during the night, they proceeded to
examine even the very chimney, in order to discover whether escape by
it were possible; but this attempt, too, was fruitless, for the chimney,
built in the old fashion, rose in a perfectly perpendicular line from
the hearth to a height of nearly fourteen feet above the roof, affording
in its interior scarcely the possibility of ascent, the flue being
smoothly plastered, and sloping towards the top like an inverted funnel,
promising, too, even if the summit were attained, owing to its great
height, but a precarious descent upon the sharp and steep-ridged roof;
the ashes, too, which lay in the grate, and the soot, as far as it
could be seen, were undisturbed, a circumstance almost conclusive of the
question.

Sir Arthur was of course examined; his evidence was given with clearness
and unreserve, which seemed calculated to silence all suspicion.
He stated that, up to the day and night immediately preceding the
catastrophe, he had lost to a heavy amount, but that, at their last
sitting, he had not only won back his original loss, but upwards of
four thousand pounds in addition; in evidence of which he produced
an acknowledgment of debt to that amount in the handwriting of the
deceased, and bearing the date of the fatal night. He had mentioned
the circumstance to his lady, and in presence of some of the domestics;
which statement was supported by THEIR respective evidence.

One of the jury shrewdly observed, that the circumstance of Mr.
Tisdall's having sustained so heavy a loss might have suggested to some
ill-minded persons accidentally hearing it, the plan of robbing him,
after having murdered him in such a manner as might make it appear that
he had committed suicide; a supposition which was strongly supported
by the razors having been found thus displaced, and removed from their
case. Two persons had probably been engaged in the attempt, one watching
by the sleeping man, and ready to strike him in case of his awakening
suddenly, while the other was procuring the razors and employed in
inflicting the fatal gash, so as to make it appear to have been the act
of the murdered man himself. It was said that while the juror was making
this suggestion Sir Arthur changed colour.

Nothing, however, like legal evidence appeared against him, and the
consequence was that the verdict was found against a person or persons
unknown; and for some time the matter was suffered to rest, until, after
about five months, my father received a letter from a person signing
himself Andrew Collis, and representing himself to be the cousin of the
deceased. This letter stated that Sir Arthur was likely to incur not
merely suspicion, but personal risk, unless he could account for certain
circumstances connected with the recent murder, and contained a copy of
a letter written by the deceased, and bearing date, the day of the week,
and of the month, upon the night of which the deed of blood had been
perpetrated. Tisdall's note ran as follows:

     'DEAR COLLIS,
          'I have had sharp work with Sir
Arthur; he tried some of his stale tricks, but soon found that _I_ was
Yorkshire too: it would not do--you understand me. We went to the work
like good ones, head, heart and soul; and, in fact, since I came here, I
have lost no time. I am rather fagged, but I am sure to be well paid
for my hardship; I never want sleep so long as I can have the music of a
dice-box, and wherewithal to pay the piper. As I told you, he tried some
of his queer turns, but I foiled him like a man, and, in return, gave
him more than he could relish of the genuine DEAD KNOWLEDGE.

'In short, I have plucked the old baronet as never baronet was plucked
before; I have scarce left him the stump of a quill; I have got
promissory notes in his hand to the amount of--if you like round
numbers, say, thirty thousand pounds, safely deposited in my portable
strong-box, alias double-clasped pocket-book. I leave this ruinous old
rat-hole early on to-morrow, for two reasons--first, I do not want to
play with Sir Arthur deeper than I think his security, that is, his
money, or his money's worth, would warrant; and, secondly, because I am
safer a hundred miles from Sir Arthur than in the house with him. Look
you, my worthy, I tell you this between ourselves--I may be wrong, but,
by G--, I am as sure as that I am now living, that Sir A---- attempted
to poison me last night; so much for old friendship on both sides.

'When I won the last stake, a heavy one enough, my friend leant his
forehead upon his hands, and you'll laugh when I tell you that his
head literally smoked like a hot dumpling. I do not know whether his
agitation was produced by the plan which he had against me, or by his
having lost so heavily--though it must be allowed that he had reason to
be a little funked, whichever way his thoughts went; but he pulled
the bell, and ordered two bottles of champagne. While the fellow was
bringing them he drew out a promissory note to the full amount, which he
signed, and, as the man came in with the bottles and glasses, he desired
him to be off; he filled out a glass for me, and, while he thought my
eyes were off, for I was putting up his note at the time, he dropped
something slyly into it, no doubt to sweeten it; but I saw it all, and,
when he handed it to me, I said, with an emphasis which he might or
might not understand:

'"There is some sediment in this; I'll not drink it."

'"Is there?" said he, and at the same time snatched it from my hand and
threw it into the fire. What do you think of that? have I not a tender
chicken to manage? Win or lose, I will not play beyond five thousand
to-night, and to-morrow sees me safe out of the reach of Sir Arthur's
champagne. So, all things considered, I think you must allow that you
are not the last who have found a knowing boy in

'Yours to command,

'HUGH TISDALL.'


Of the authenticity of this document I never heard my father express a
doubt; and I am satisfied that, owing to his strong conviction in
favour of his brother, he would not have admitted it without sufficient
inquiry, inasmuch as it tended to confirm the suspicions which already
existed to his prejudice.

Now, the only point in this letter which made strongly against my uncle,
was the mention of the 'double-clasped pocket-book' as the receptacle
of the papers likely to involve him, for this pocket-book was not
forthcoming, nor anywhere to be found, nor had any papers referring to
his gaming transactions been found upon the dead man. However, whatever
might have been the original intention of this Collis, neither my uncle
nor my father ever heard more of him; but he published the letter in
Faulkner's newspaper, which was shortly afterwards made the vehicle of
a much more mysterious attack. The passage in that periodical to which
I allude, occurred about four years afterwards, and while the fatal
occurrence was still fresh in public recollection. It commenced by a
rambling preface, stating that 'a CERTAIN PERSON whom CERTAIN persons
thought to be dead, was not so, but living, and in full possession
of his memory, and moreover ready and able to make GREAT delinquents
tremble.' It then went on to describe the murder, without, however,
mentioning names; and in doing so, it entered into minute and
circumstantial particulars of which none but an EYE-WITNESS could
have been possessed, and by implications almost too unequivocal to be
regarded in the light of insinuation, to involve the 'TITLED GAMBLER' in
the guilt of the transaction.

My father at once urged Sir Arthur to proceed against the paper in an
action of libel; but he would not hear of it, nor consent to my father's
taking any legal steps whatever in the matter. My father, however, wrote
in a threatening tone to Faulkner, demanding a surrender of the author
of the obnoxious article. The answer to this application is still in
my possession, and is penned in an apologetic tone: it states that
the manuscript had been handed in, paid for, and inserted as an
advertisement, without sufficient inquiry, or any knowledge as to whom
it referred.

No step, however, was taken to clear my uncle's character in the
judgment of the public; and as he immediately sold a small property, the
application of the proceeds of which was known to none, he was said
to have disposed of it to enable himself to buy off the threatened
information. However the truth might have been, it is certain that no
charges respecting the mysterious murder were afterwards publicly made
against my uncle, and, as far as external disturbances were concerned,
he enjoyed henceforward perfect security and quiet.

A deep and lasting impression, however, had been made upon the public
mind, and Sir Arthur T----n was no longer visited or noticed by the
gentry and aristocracy of the county, whose attention and courtesies
he had hitherto received. He accordingly affected to despise these
enjoyments which he could not procure, and shunned even that society
which he might have commanded.

This is all that I need recapitulate of my uncle's history, and I now
recur to my own. Although my father had never, within my recollection,
visited, or been visited by, my uncle, each being of sedentary,
procrastinating, and secluded habits, and their respective residences
being very far apart--the one lying in the county of Galway, the other
in that of Cork--he was strongly attached to his brother, and evinced
his affection by an active correspondence, and by deeply and proudly
resenting that neglect which had marked Sir Arthur as unfit to mix in
society.

When I was about eighteen years of age, my father, whose health had been
gradually declining, died, leaving me in heart wretched and desolate,
and, owing to his previous seclusion, with few acquaintances, and almost
no friends.

The provisions of his will were curious, and when I had sufficiently
come to myself to listen to or comprehend them, surprised me not a
little: all his vast property was left to me, and to the heirs of my
body, for ever; and, in default of such heirs, it was to go after my
death to my uncle, Sir Arthur, without any entail.

At the same time, the will appointed him my guardian, desiring that
I might be received within his house, and reside with his family, and
under his care, during the term of my minority; and in consideration of
the increased expense consequent upon such an arrangement, a handsome
annuity was allotted to him during the term of my proposed residence.

The object of this last provision I at once understood: my father
desired, by making it the direct, apparent interest of Sir Arthur that I
should die without issue, while at the same time he placed me wholly
in his power, to prove to the world how great and unshaken was his
confidence in his brother's innocence and honour, and also to afford
him an opportunity of showing that this mark of confidence was not
unworthily bestowed.

It was a strange, perhaps an idle scheme; but as I had been always
brought up in the habit of considering my uncle as a deeply-injured man,
and had been taught, almost as a part of my religion, to regard him as
the very soul of honour, I felt no further uneasiness respecting the
arrangement than that likely to result to a timid girl, of secluded
habits, from the immediate prospect of taking up her abode for the first
time in her life among total strangers. Previous to leaving my home,
which I felt I should do with a heavy heart, I received a most tender
and affectionate letter from my uncle, calculated, if anything could do
so, to remove the bitterness of parting from scenes familiar and dear
from my earliest childhood, and in some degree to reconcile me to the
measure.

It was during a fine autumn that I approached the old domain of
Carrickleigh. I shall not soon forget the impression of sadness and
of gloom which all that I saw produced upon my mind; the sunbeams were
falling with a rich and melancholy tint upon the fine old trees, which
stood in lordly groups, casting their long, sweeping shadows over rock
and sward. There was an air of neglect and decay about the spot, which
amounted almost to desolation; the symptoms of this increased in number
as we approached the building itself, near which the ground had been
originally more artificially and carefully cultivated than elsewhere,
and whose neglect consequently more immediately and strikingly betrayed
itself.

As we proceeded, the road wound near the beds of what had been formally
two fish-ponds, which were now nothing more than stagnant swamps,
overgrown with rank weeds, and here and there encroached upon by the
straggling underwood; the avenue itself was much broken, and in many
places the stones were almost concealed by grass and nettles; the loose
stone walls which had here and there intersected the broad park were,
in many places, broken down, so as no longer to answer their original
purpose as fences; piers were now and then to be seen, but the gates
were gone; and, to add to the general air of dilapidation, some huge
trunks were lying scattered through the venerable old trees, either the
work of the winter storms, or perhaps the victims of some extensive but
desultory scheme of denudation, which the projector had not capital or
perseverance to carry into full effect.

After the carriage had travelled a mile of this avenue, we reached the
summit of rather an abrupt eminence, one of the many which added to the
picturesqueness, if not to the convenience of this rude passage. From
the top of this ridge the grey walls of Carrickleigh were visible,
rising at a small distance in front, and darkened by the hoary
wood which crowded around them. It was a quadrangular building of
considerable extent, and the front which lay towards us, and in which
the great entrance was placed, bore unequivocal marks of antiquity; the
time-worn, solemn aspect of the old building, the ruinous and deserted
appearance of the whole place, and the associations which connected
it with a dark page in the history of my family, combined to depress
spirits already predisposed for the reception of sombre and dejecting
impressions.

When the carriage drew up in the grass-grown court yard before the
hall-door, two lazy-looking men, whose appearance well accorded with
that of the place which they tenanted, alarmed by the obstreperous
barking of a great chained dog, ran out from some half-ruinous
out-houses, and took charge of the horses; the hall-door stood open, and
I entered a gloomy and imperfectly lighted apartment, and found no one
within. However, I had not long to wait in this awkward predicament, for
before my luggage had been deposited in the house, indeed, before I
had well removed my cloak and other wraps, so as to enable me to look
around, a young girl ran lightly into the hall, and kissing me heartily,
and somewhat boisterously, exclaimed:

'My dear cousin, my dear Margaret--I am so delighted--so out of breath.
We did not expect you till ten o'clock; my father is somewhere about the
place, he must be close at hand. James--Corney--run out and tell
your master--my brother is seldom at home, at least at any reasonable
hour--you must be so tired--so fatigued--let me show you to your
room--see that Lady Margaret's luggage is all brought up--you must lie
down and rest yourself--Deborah, bring some coffee--up these stairs;
we are so delighted to see you--you cannot think how lonely I have
been--how steep these stairs are, are not they? I am so glad you are
come--I could hardly bring myself to believe that you were really
coming--how good of you, dear Lady Margaret.'

There was real good-nature and delight in my cousin's greeting, and a
kind of constitutional confidence of manner which placed me at once at
ease, and made me feel immediately upon terms of intimacy with her. The
room into which she ushered me, although partaking in the general air of
decay which pervaded the mansion and all about it, had nevertheless been
fitted up with evident attention to comfort, and even with some dingy
attempt at luxury; but what pleased me most was that it opened, by
a second door, upon a lobby which communicated with my fair cousin's
apartment; a circumstance which divested the room, in my eyes, of the
air of solitude and sadness which would otherwise have characterised it,
to a degree almost painful to one so dejected in spirits as I was.

After such arrangements as I found necessary were completed, we both
went down to the parlour, a large wainscoted room, hung round with grim
old portraits, and, as I was not sorry to see, containing in its ample
grate a large and cheerful fire. Here my cousin had leisure to talk more
at her ease; and from her I learned something of the manners and the
habits of the two remaining members of her family, whom I had not yet
seen.

On my arrival I had known nothing of the family among whom I was come to
reside, except that it consisted of three individuals, my uncle, and his
son and daughter, Lady T----n having been long dead. In addition to
this very scanty stock of information, I shortly learned from my
communicative companion that my uncle was, as I had suspected,
completely retired in his habits, and besides that, having been so far
back as she could well recollect, always rather strict, as reformed
rakes frequently become, he had latterly been growing more gloomily and
sternly religious than heretofore.

Her account of her brother was far less favourable, though she did not
say anything directly to his disadvantage. From all that I could gather
from her, I was led to suppose that he was a specimen of the idle,
coarse-mannered, profligate, low-minded 'squirearchy'--a result which
might naturally have flowed from the circumstance of his being, as it
were, outlawed from society, and driven for companionship to grades
below his own--enjoying, too, the dangerous prerogative of spending much
money.

However, you may easily suppose that I found nothing in my cousin's
communication fully to bear me out in so very decided a conclusion.

I awaited the arrival of my uncle, which was every moment to be
expected, with feelings half of alarm, half of curiosity--a sensation
which I have often since experienced, though to a less degree, when upon
the point of standing for the first time in the presence of one of whom
I have long been in the habit of hearing or thinking with interest.

It was, therefore, with some little perturbation that I heard, first a
slight bustle at the outer door, then a slow step traverse the hall, and
finally witnessed the door open, and my uncle enter the room. He was a
striking-looking man; from peculiarities both of person and of garb, the
whole effect of his appearance amounted to extreme singularity. He was
tall, and when young his figure must have been strikingly elegant; as it
was, however, its effect was marred by a very decided stoop. His dress
was of a sober colour, and in fashion anterior to anything which I could
remember. It was, however, handsome, and by no means carelessly put
on; but what completed the singularity of his appearance was his uncut,
white hair, which hung in long, but not at all neglected curls, even
so far as his shoulders, and which combined with his regularly classic
features, and fine dark eyes, to bestow upon him an air of venerable
dignity and pride, which I have never seen equalled elsewhere. I rose as
he entered, and met him about the middle of the room; he kissed my cheek
and both my hands, saying:

'You are most welcome, dear child, as welcome as the command of this
poor place and all that it contains can make you. I am most rejoiced to
see you--truly rejoiced. I trust that you are not much fatigued--pray
be seated again.' He led me to my chair, and continued: 'I am glad to
perceive you have made acquaintance with Emily already; I see, in your
being thus brought together, the foundation of a lasting friendship.
You are both innocent, and both young. God bless you--God bless you, and
make you all that I could wish.'


He raised his eyes, and remained for a few moments silent, as if
in secret prayer. I felt that it was impossible that this man, with
feelings so quick, so warm, so tender, could be the wretch that public
opinion had represented him to be. I was more than ever convinced of his
innocence.

His manner was, or appeared to me, most fascinating; there was a mingled
kindness and courtesy in it which seemed to speak benevolence itself. It
was a manner which I felt cold art could never have taught; it owed most
of its charm to its appearing to emanate directly from the heart; it
must be a genuine index of the owner's mind. So I thought.

My uncle having given me fully to understand that I was most welcome,
and might command whatever was his own, pressed me to take some
refreshment; and on my refusing, he observed that previously to
bidding me good-night, he had one duty further to perform, one in whose
observance he was convinced I would cheerfully acquiesce.

He then proceeded to read a chapter from the Bible; after which he took
his leave with the same affectionate kindness with which he had greeted
me, having repeated his desire that I should consider everything in his
house as altogether at my disposal. It is needless to say that I was
much pleased with my uncle--it was impossible to avoid being so; and I
could not help saying to myself, if such a man as this is not safe from
the assaults of slander, who is? I felt much happier than I had done
since my father's death, and enjoyed that night the first refreshing
sleep which had visited me since that event.

My curiosity respecting my male cousin did not long remain
unsatisfied--he appeared the next day at dinner. His manners, though not
so coarse as I had expected, were exceedingly disagreeable; there was an
assurance and a forwardness for which I was not prepared; there was less
of the vulgarity of manner, and almost more of that of the mind, than I
had anticipated. I felt quite uncomfortable in his presence; there was
just that confidence in his look and tone which would read encouragement
even in mere toleration; and I felt more disgusted and annoyed at the
coarse and extravagant compliments which he was pleased from time to
time to pay me, than perhaps the extent of the atrocity might fully
have warranted. It was, however, one consolation that he did not often
appear, being much engrossed by pursuits about which I neither knew nor
cared anything; but when he did appear, his attentions, either with
a view to his amusement or to some more serious advantage, were so
obviously and perseveringly directed to me, that young and inexperienced
as I was, even _I_ could not be ignorant of his preference. I felt more
provoked by this odious persecution than I can express, and discouraged
him with so much vigour, that I employed even rudeness to convince him
that his assiduities were unwelcome; but all in vain.

This had gone on for nearly a twelve-month, to my infinite annoyance,
when one day as I was sitting at some needle-work with my companion
Emily, as was my habit, in the parlour, the door opened, and my cousin
Edward entered the room. There was something, I thought, odd in his
manner--a kind of struggle between shame and impudence--a kind of flurry
and ambiguity which made him appear, if possible, more than ordinarily
disagreeable.

'Your servant, ladies,' he said, seating himself at the same time;
'sorry to spoil your tete-a-tete, but never mind, I'll only take Emily's
place for a minute or two; and then we part for a while, fair cousin.
Emily, my father wants you in the corner turret. No shilly-shally; he's
in a hurry.' She hesitated. 'Be off--tramp, march!' he exclaimed, in a
tone which the poor girl dared not disobey.

She left the room, and Edward followed her to the door. He stood there
for a minute or two, as if reflecting what he should say, perhaps
satisfying himself that no one was within hearing in the hall.

At length he turned about, having closed the door, as if carelessly,
with his foot; and advancing slowly, as if in deep thought, he took his
seat at the side of the table opposite to mine.

There was a brief interval of silence, after which he said:

'I imagine that you have a shrewd suspicion of the object of my early
visit; but I suppose I must go into particulars. Must I?'

'I have no conception,' I replied, 'what your object may be.'

'Well, well,' said he, becoming more at his ease as he proceeded,
'it may be told in a few words. You know that it is totally
impossible--quite out of the question--that an offhand young fellow like
me, and a good-looking girl like yourself, could meet continually, as
you and I have done, without an attachment--a liking growing up on one
side or other; in short, I think I have let you know as plain as if I
spoke it, that I have been in love with you almost from the first time I
saw you.'

He paused; but I was too much horrified to speak. He interpreted my
silence favourably.

'I can tell you,' he continued, 'I'm reckoned rather hard to please, and
very hard to HIT. I can't say when I was taken with a girl before; so
you see fortune reserved me----'

Here the odious wretch wound his arm round my waist. The action at
once restored me to utterance, and with the most indignant vehemence I
released myself from his hold, and at the same time said:

'I have not been insensible, sir, of your most disagreeable
attentions--they have long been a source of much annoyance to me; and
you must be aware that I have marked my disapprobation--my disgust--as
unequivocally as I possibly could, without actual indelicacy.'

I paused, almost out of breath from the rapidity with which I had
spoken; and without giving him time to renew the conversation, I hastily
quitted the room, leaving him in a paroxysm of rage and mortification.
As I ascended the stairs, I heard him open the parlour-door with
violence, and take two or three rapid strides in the direction in which
I was moving. I was now much frightened, and ran the whole way until I
reached my room; and having locked the door, I listened breathlessly,
but heard no sound. This relieved me for the present; but so much had
I been overcome by the agitation and annoyance attendant upon the scene
which I had just gone through, that when my cousin Emily knocked at my
door, I was weeping in strong hysterics.

You will readily conceive my distress, when you reflect upon my
strong dislike to my cousin Edward, combined with my youth and extreme
inexperience. Any proposal of such a nature must have agitated me; but
that it should have come from the man whom of all others I most loathed
and abhorred, and to whom I had, as clearly as manner could do it,
expressed the state of my feelings, was almost too overwhelming to be
borne. It was a calamity, too, in which I could not claim the sympathy
of my cousin Emily, which had always been extended to me in my minor
grievances. Still I hoped that it might not be unattended with good; for
I thought that one inevitable and most welcome consequence would result
from this painful eclaircissment, in the discontinuance of my cousin's
odious persecution.

When I arose next morning, it was with the fervent hope that I might
never again behold the face, or even hear the name, of my cousin Edward;
but such a consummation, though devoutly to be wished, was hardly likely
to occur. The painful impressions of yesterday were too vivid to be at
once erased; and I could not help feeling some dim foreboding of coming
annoyance and evil.

To expect on my cousin's part anything like delicacy or consideration
for me, was out of the question. I saw that he had set his heart upon
my property, and that he was not likely easily to forego such an
acquisition--possessing what might have been considered opportunities
and facilities almost to compel my compliance.

I now keenly felt the unreasonableness of my father's conduct in placing
me to reside with a family of all whose members, with one exception,
he was wholly ignorant, and I bitterly felt the helplessness of my
situation. I determined, however, in case of my cousin's persevering in
his addresses, to lay all the particulars before my uncle, although
he had never in kindness or intimacy gone a step beyond our first
interview, and to throw myself upon his hospitality and his sense of
honour for protection against a repetition of such scenes.

My cousin's conduct may appear to have been an inadequate cause for
such serious uneasiness; but my alarm was caused neither by his acts
nor words, but entirely by his manner, which was strange and even
intimidating to excess. At the beginning of the yesterday's interview
there was a sort of bullying swagger in his air, which towards the
end gave place to the brutal vehemence of an undisguised ruffian--a
transition which had tempted me into a belief that he might seek even
forcibly to extort from me a consent to his wishes, or by means still
more horrible, of which I scarcely dared to trust myself to think, to
possess himself of my property.

I was early next day summoned to attend my uncle in his private
room, which lay in a corner turret of the old building; and thither I
accordingly went, wondering all the way what this unusual measure might
prelude. When I entered the room, he did not rise in his usual courteous
way to greet me, but simply pointed to a chair opposite to his own. This
boded nothing agreeable. I sat down, however, silently waiting until he
should open the conversation.

'Lady Margaret,' at length he said, in a tone of greater sternness than
I thought him capable of using, 'I have hitherto spoken to you as a
friend, but I have not forgotten that I am also your guardian, and that
my authority as such gives me a right to control your conduct. I shall
put a question to you, and I expect and will demand a plain, direct
answer. Have I rightly been informed that you have contemptuously
rejected the suit and hand of my son Edward?'

I stammered forth with a good deal of trepidation:

'I believe--that is, I have, sir, rejected my cousin's proposals; and
my coldness and discouragement might have convinced him that I had
determined to do so.'

'Madam,' replied he, with suppressed, but, as it appeared to me,
intense anger, 'I have lived long enough to know that COLDNESS and
discouragement, and such terms, form the common cant of a worthless
coquette. You know to the full, as well as I, that COLDNESS AND
DISCOURAGEMENT may be so exhibited as to convince their object that
he is neither distasteful or indifferent to the person who wears this
manner. You know, too, none better, that an affected neglect, when
skilfully managed, is amongst the most formidable of the engines which
artful beauty can employ. I tell you, madam, that having, without one
word spoken in discouragement, permitted my son's most marked attentions
for a twelvemonth or more, you have no right to dismiss him with no
further explanation than demurely telling him that you had always looked
coldly upon him; and neither your wealth nor your LADYSHIP' (there was
an emphasis of scorn on the word, which would have become Sir Giles
Overreach himself) 'can warrant you in treating with contempt the
affectionate regard of an honest heart.'

I was too much shocked at this undisguised attempt to bully me into
an acquiescence in the interested and unprincipled plan for their own
aggrandisement, which I now perceived my uncle and his son to have
deliberately entered into, at once to find strength or collectedness
to frame an answer to what he had said. At length I replied, with some
firmness:

'In all that you have just now said, sir, you have grossly misstated my
conduct and motives. Your information must have been most incorrect as
far as it regards my conduct towards my cousin; my manner towards him
could have conveyed nothing but dislike; and if anything could have
added to the strong aversion which I have long felt towards him, it
would be his attempting thus to trick and frighten me into a marriage
which he knows to be revolting to me, and which is sought by him only as
a means for securing to himself whatever property is mine.'

As I said this, I fixed my eyes upon those of my uncle, but he was too
old in the world's ways to falter beneath the gaze of more searching
eyes than mine; he simply said:

'Are you acquainted with the provisions of your father's will?'

I answered in the affirmative; and he continued:

'Then you must be aware that if my son Edward were--which God
forbid--the unprincipled, reckless man you pretend to think him'--(here
he spoke very slowly, as if he intended that every word which escaped
him should be registered in my memory, while at the same time the
expression of his countenance underwent a gradual but horrible change,
and the eyes which he fixed upon me became so darkly vivid, that
I almost lost sight of everything else)--'if he were what you have
described him, think you, girl, he could find no briefer means than
wedding contracts to gain his ends? 'twas but to gripe your slender neck
until the breath had stopped, and lands, and lakes, and all were his.'

I stood staring at him for many minutes after he had ceased to speak,
fascinated by the terrible serpent-like gaze, until he continued with a
welcome change of countenance:

'I will not speak again to you upon this--topic until one month has
passed. You shall have time to consider the relative advantages of the
two courses which are open to you. I should be sorry to hurry you to
a decision. I am satisfied with having stated my feelings upon the
subject, and pointed out to you the path of duty. Remember this day
month--not one word sooner.'

He then rose, and I left the room, much agitated and exhausted.

This interview, all the circumstances attending it, but most
particularly the formidable expression of my uncle's countenance while
he talked, though hypothetically, of murder, combined to arouse all my
worst suspicions of him. I dreaded to look upon the face that had so
recently worn the appalling livery of guilt and malignity. I regarded it
with the mingled fear and loathing with which one looks upon an object
which has tortured them in a nightmare.

In a few days after the interview, the particulars of which I have just
related, I found a note upon my toilet-table, and on opening it I read
as follows:


     'MY DEAR LADY MARGARET,
          'You will be perhaps surprised to
see a strange face in your room to-day. I have dismissed your Irish
maid, and secured a French one to wait upon you--a step rendered
necessary by my proposing shortly to visit the Continent, with all my
family.

'Your faithful guardian,

'ARTHUR T----N.'


On inquiry, I found that my faithful attendant was actually gone, and
far on her way to the town of Galway; and in her stead there appeared
a tall, raw-boned, ill-looking, elderly Frenchwoman, whose sullen and
presuming manners seemed to imply that her vocation had never before
been that of a lady's-maid. I could not help regarding her as a creature
of my uncle's, and therefore to be dreaded, even had she been in no
other way suspicious.

Days and weeks passed away without any, even a momentary doubt upon my
part, as to the course to be pursued by me. The allotted period had
at length elapsed; the day arrived on which I was to communicate my
decision to my uncle. Although my resolution had never for a moment
wavered, I could not shake of the dread of the approaching colloquy; and
my heart sunk within me as I heard the expected summons.

I had not seen my cousin Edward since the occurrence of the grand
eclaircissment; he must have studiously avoided me--I suppose from
policy, it could not have been from delicacy. I was prepared for a
terrific burst of fury from my uncle, as soon as I should make known my
determination; and I not unreasonably feared that some act of violence
or of intimidation would next be resorted to.

Filled with these dreary forebodings, I fearfully opened the study door,
and the next minute I stood in my uncle's presence. He received me
with a politeness which I dreaded, as arguing a favourable anticipation
respecting the answer which I was to give; and after some slight delay,
he began by saying:

'It will be a relief to both of us, I believe, to bring this
conversation as soon as possible to an issue. You will excuse me,
then, my dear niece, for speaking with an abruptness which, under other
circumstances, would be unpardonable. You have, I am certain, given
the subject of our last interview fair and serious consideration; and I
trust that you are now prepared with candour to lay your answer before
me. A few words will suffice--we perfectly understand one another.'

He paused, and I, though feeling that I stood upon a mine which might in
an instant explode, nevertheless answered with perfect composure:

'I must now, sir, make the same reply which I did upon the last
occasion, and I reiterate the declaration which I then made, that I
never can nor will, while life and reason remain, consent to a union
with my cousin Edward.'

This announcement wrought no apparent change in Sir Arthur, except that
he became deadly, almost lividly pale. He seemed lost in dark thought
for a minute, and then with a slight effort said:

'You have answered me honestly and directly; and you say your resolution
is unchangeable. Well, would it had been otherwise--would it had been
otherwise--but be it as it is--I am satisfied.'

He gave me his hand--it was cold and damp as death; under an assumed
calmness, it was evident that he was fearfully agitated. He continued
to hold my hand with an almost painful pressure, while, as if
unconsciously, seeming to forget my presence, he muttered:

'Strange, strange, strange, indeed! fatuity, helpless fatuity!' there
was here a long pause. 'Madness INDEED to strain a cable that is rotten
to the very heart--it must break--and then--all goes.'

There was again a pause of some minutes, after which, suddenly changing
his voice and manner to one of wakeful alacrity, he exclaimed:

'Margaret, my son Edward shall plague you no more. He leaves this
country on to-morrow for France--he shall speak no more upon this
subject--never, never more--whatever events depended upon your answer
must now take their own course; but, as for this fruitless proposal, it
has been tried enough; it can be repeated no more.'

At these words he coldly suffered my hand to drop, as if to express
his total abandonment of all his projected schemes of alliance; and
certainly the action, with the accompanying words, produced upon my mind
a more solemn and depressing effect than I believed possible to have
been caused by the course which I had determined to pursue; it struck
upon my heart with an awe and heaviness which WILL accompany the
accomplishment of an important and irrevocable act, even though no doubt
or scruple remains to make it possible that the agent should wish it
undone.

'Well,' said my uncle, after a little time, 'we now cease to speak upon
this topic, never to resume it again. Remember you shall have no farther
uneasiness from Edward; he leaves Ireland for France on to-morrow; this
will be a relief to you. May I depend upon your HONOUR that no word
touching the subject of this interview shall ever escape you?'

I gave him the desired assurance; he said:

'It is well--I am satisfied--we have nothing more, I believe, to say
upon either side, and my presence must be a restraint upon you, I shall
therefore bid you farewell.'

I then left the apartment, scarcely knowing what to think of the strange
interview which had just taken place.

On the next day my uncle took occasion to tell me that Edward had
actually sailed, if his intention had not been interfered with by
adverse circumstances; and two days subsequently he actually produced a
letter from his son, written, as it said, ON BOARD, and despatched while
the ship was getting under weigh. This was a great satisfaction to me,
and as being likely to prove so, it was no doubt communicated to me by
Sir Arthur.

During all this trying period, I had found infinite consolation in the
society and sympathy of my dear cousin Emily. I never in after-life
formed a friendship so close, so fervent, and upon which, in all its
progress, I could look back with feelings of such unalloyed pleasure,
upon whose termination I must ever dwell with so deep, yet so
unembittered regret. In cheerful converse with her I soon recovered
my spirits considerably, and passed my time agreeably enough, although
still in the strictest seclusion.

Matters went on sufficiently smooth, although I could not help sometimes
feeling a momentary, but horrible uncertainty respecting my uncle's
character; which was not altogether unwarranted by the circumstances of
the two trying interviews whose particulars I have just detailed. The
unpleasant impression which these conferences were calculated to leave
upon my mind, was fast wearing away, when there occurred a circumstance,
slight indeed in itself, but calculated irresistibly to awaken all my
worst suspicions, and to overwhelm me again with anxiety and terror.

I had one day left the house with my cousin Emily, in order to take
a ramble of considerable length, for the purpose of sketching some
favourite views, and we had walked about half a mile when I perceived
that we had forgotten our drawing materials, the absence of which
would have defeated the object of our walk. Laughing at our own
thoughtlessness, we returned to the house, and leaving Emily without, I
ran upstairs to procure the drawing-books and pencils, which lay in my
bedroom.

As I ran up the stairs I was met by the tall, ill-looking Frenchwoman,
evidently a good deal flurried.

'Que veut, madame?' said she, with a more decided effort to be polite
than I had ever known her make before.


'No, no--no matter,' said I, hastily running by her in the direction of
my room.

'Madame,' cried she, in a high key, 'restez ici, s'il vous plait; votre
chambre n'est pas faite--your room is not ready for your reception yet.'

I continued to move on without heeding her. She was some way behind me,
and feeling that she could not otherwise prevent my entrance, for I was
now upon the very lobby, she made a desperate attempt to seize hold of
my person: she succeeded in grasping the end of my shawl, which she drew
from my shoulders; but slipping at the same time upon the polished oak
floor, she fell at full length upon the boards.

A little frightened as well as angry at the rudeness of this strange
woman, I hastily pushed open the door of my room, at which I now stood,
in order to escape from her; but great was my amazement on entering to
find the apartment preoccupied.

The window was open, and beside it stood two male figures; they appeared
to be examining the fastenings of the casement, and their backs were
turned towards the door. One of them was my uncle; they both turned on
my entrance, as if startled. The stranger was booted and cloaked,
and wore a heavy broad-leafed hat over his brows. He turned but for a
moment, and averted his face; but I had seen enough to convince me that
he was no other than my cousin Edward. My uncle had some iron instrument
in his hand, which he hastily concealed behind his back; and coming
towards me, said something as if in an explanatory tone; but I was too
much shocked and confounded to understand what it might be. He said
something about 'REPAIRS--window--frames--cold, and safety.'

I did not wait, however, to ask or to receive explanations, but hastily
left the room. As I went down the stairs I thought I heard the voice of
the Frenchwoman in all the shrill volubility of excuse, which was met,
however, by suppressed but vehement imprecations, or what seemed to me
to be such, in which the voice of my cousin Edward distinctly mingled.

I joined my cousin Emily quite out of breath. I need not say that my
head was too full of other things to think much of drawing for that day.
I imparted to her frankly the cause of my alarms, but at the same
time as gently as I could; and with tears she promised vigilance,
and devotion, and love. I never had reason for a moment to repent the
unreserved confidence which I then reposed in her. She was no less
surprised than I at the unexpected appearance of Edward, whose departure
for France neither of us had for a moment doubted, but which was now
proved by his actual presence to be nothing more than an imposture,
practised, I feared, for no good end.

The situation in which I had found my uncle had removed completely all
my doubts as to his designs. I magnified suspicions into certainties,
and dreaded night after night that I should be murdered in my bed.
The nervousness produced by sleepless nights and days of anxious fears
increased the horrors of my situation to such a degree, that I at length
wrote a letter to a Mr. Jefferies, an old and faithful friend of my
father's, and perfectly acquainted with all his affairs, praying him,
for God's sake, to relieve me from my present terrible situation, and
communicating without reserve the nature and grounds of my suspicions.

This letter I kept sealed and directed for two or three days always
about my person, for discovery would have been ruinous, in expectation
of an opportunity which might be safely trusted, whereby to have it
placed in the post-office. As neither Emily nor I were permitted to pass
beyond the precincts of the demesne itself, which was surrounded by
high walls formed of dry stone, the difficulty of procuring such an
opportunity was greatly enhanced.

At this time Emily had a short conversation with her father, which she
reported to me instantly.

After some indifferent matter, he had asked her whether she and I were
upon good terms, and whether I was unreserved in my disposition. She
answered in the affirmative; and he then inquired whether I had been
much surprised to find him in my chamber on the other day. She answered
that I had been both surprised and amused.

'And what did she think of George Wilson's appearance?'

'Who?' inquired she.

'Oh, the architect,' he answered, 'who is to contract for the repairs of
the house; he is accounted a handsome fellow.'

'She could not see his face,' said Emily, 'and she was in such a hurry
to escape that she scarcely noticed him.'

Sir Arthur appeared satisfied, and the conversation ended.

This slight conversation, repeated accurately to me by Emily, had the
effect of confirming, if indeed anything was required to do so, all that
I had before believed as to Edward's actual presence; and I naturally
became, if possible, more anxious than ever to despatch the letter to
Mr. Jefferies. An opportunity at length occurred.

As Emily and I were walking one day near the gate of the demesne, a lad
from the village happened to be passing down the avenue from the house;
the spot was secluded, and as this person was not connected by service
with those whose observation I dreaded, I committed the letter to his
keeping, with strict injunctions that he should put it without delay
into the receiver of the town post-office; at the same time I added
a suitable gratuity, and the man having made many protestations of
punctuality, was soon out of sight.

He was hardly gone when I began to doubt my discretion in having trusted
this person; but I had no better or safer means of despatching the
letter, and I was not warranted in suspecting him of such wanton
dishonesty as an inclination to tamper with it; but I could not be quite
satisfied of its safety until I had received an answer, which could not
arrive for a few days. Before I did, however, an event occurred which a
little surprised me.

I was sitting in my bedroom early in the day, reading by myself, when I
heard a knock at the door.

'Come in,' said I; and my uncle entered the room.

'Will you excuse me?' said he. 'I sought you in the parlour, and thence
I have come here. I desired to say a word with you. I trust that you
have hitherto found my conduct to you such as that of a guardian towards
his ward should be.'

I dared not withhold my consent.

'And,' he continued, 'I trust that you have not found me harsh or
unjust, and that you have perceived, my dear niece, that I have sought
to make this poor place as agreeable to you as may be.'

I assented again; and he put his hand in his pocket, whence he drew a
folded paper, and dashing it upon the table with startling emphasis, he
said:

'Did you write that letter?'

The sudden and tearful alteration of his voice, manner, and face, but,
more than all, the unexpected production of my letter to Mr. Jefferies,
which I at once recognised, so confounded and terrified me, that I felt
almost choking.

I could not utter a word.

'Did you write that letter?' he repeated with slow and intense
emphasis.' You did, liar and hypocrite! You dared to write this foul and
infamous libel; but it shall be your last. Men will universally believe
you mad, if I choose to call for an inquiry. I can make you appear
so. The suspicions expressed in this letter are the hallucinations and
alarms of moping lunacy. I have defeated your first attempt, madam; and
by the holy God, if ever you make another, chains, straw, darkness, and
the keeper's whip shall be your lasting portion!'

With these astounding words he left the room, leaving me almost
fainting.

I was now almost reduced to despair; my last cast had failed; I had no
course left but that of eloping secretly from the castle, and placing
myself under the protection of the nearest magistrate. I felt if this
were not done, and speedily, that I should be MURDERED.

No one, from mere description, can have an idea of the unmitigated
horror of my situation--a helpless, weak, inexperienced girl, placed
under the power and wholly at the mercy of evil men, and feeling that
she had it not in her power to escape for a moment from the malignant
influences under which she was probably fated to fall; and with a
consciousness that if violence, if murder were designed, her dying
shriek would be lost in void space; no human being would be near to aid
her, no human interposition could deliver her.

I had seen Edward but once during his visit, and as I did not meet with
him again, I began to think that he must have taken his departure--a
conviction which was to a certain degree satisfactory, as I regarded his
absence as indicating the removal of immediate danger.

Emily also arrived circuitously at the same conclusion, and not without
good grounds, for she managed indirectly to learn that Edward's black
horse had actually been for a day and part of a night in the castle
stables, just at the time of her brother's supposed visit. The horse had
gone, and, as she argued, the rider must have departed with it.

This point being so far settled, I felt a little less uncomfortable:
when being one day alone in my bedroom, I happened to look out from
the window, and, to my unutterable horror, I beheld, peering through
an opposite casement, my cousin Edward's face. Had I seen the evil one
himself in bodily shape, I could not have experienced a more sickening
revulsion.

I was too much appalled to move at once from the window, but I did so
soon enough to avoid his eye. He was looking fixedly into the narrow
quadrangle upon which the window opened. I shrank back unperceived, to
pass the rest of the day in terror and despair. I went to my room early
that night, but I was too miserable to sleep.

At about twelve o'clock, feeling very nervous, I determined to call
my cousin Emily, who slept, you will remember, in the next room, which
communicated with mine by a second door. By this private entrance I
found my way into her chamber, and without difficulty persuaded her to
return to my room and sleep with me. We accordingly lay down together,
she undressed, and I with my clothes on, for I was every moment walking
up and down the room, and felt too nervous and miserable to think of
rest or comfort.

Emily was soon fast asleep, and I lay awake, fervently longing for the
first pale gleam of morning, reckoning every stroke of the old clock
with an impatience which made every hour appear like six.

It must have been about one o'clock when I thought I heard a slight
noise at the partition-door between Emily's room and mine, as if caused
by somebody's turning the key in the lock. I held my breath, and the
same sound was repeated at the second door of my room--that which opened
upon the lobby--the sound was here distinctly caused by the revolution
of the bolt in the lock, and it was followed by a slight pressure upon
the door itself, as if to ascertain the security of the lock.

The person, whoever it might be, was probably satisfied, for I heard
the old boards of the lobby creak and strain, as if under the weight
of somebody moving cautiously over them. My sense of hearing became
unnaturally, almost painfully acute. I suppose the imagination added
distinctness to sounds vague in themselves. I thought that I could
actually hear the breathing of the person who was slowly returning down
the lobby. At the head of the staircase there appeared to occur a pause;
and I could distinctly hear two or three sentences hastily whispered;
the steps then descended the stairs with apparently less caution. I now
ventured to walk quickly and lightly to the lobby-door, and attempted
to open it; it was indeed fast locked upon the outside, as was also the
other.

I now felt that the dreadful hour was come; but one desperate expedient
remained--it was to awaken Emily, and by our united strength to attempt
to force the partition-door, which was slighter than the other, and
through this to pass to the lower part of the house, whence it might be
possible to escape to the grounds, and forth to the village.

I returned to the bedside and shook Emily, but in vain. Nothing that
I could do availed to produce from her more than a few incoherent
words--it was a death-like sleep. She had certainly drank of some
narcotic, as had I probably also, spite of all the caution with which I
had examined everything presented to us to eat or drink.

I now attempted, with as little noise as possible, to force first one
door, then the other--but all in vain. I believe no strength could have
effected my object, for both doors opened inwards. I therefore collected
whatever movables I could carry thither, and piled them against the
doors, so as to assist me in whatever attempts I should make to
resist the entrance of those without. I then returned to the bed and
endeavoured again, but fruitlessly, to awaken my cousin. It was not
sleep, it was torpor, lethargy, death. I knelt down and prayed with an
agony of earnestness; and then seating myself upon the bed, I awaited my
fate with a kind of terrible tranquillity.

I heard a faint clanking sound from the narrow court which I have
already mentioned, as if caused by the scraping of some iron instrument
against stones or rubbish. I at first determined not to disturb the
calmness which I now felt, by uselessly watching the proceedings of
those who sought my life; but as the sounds continued, the horrible
curiosity which I felt overcame every other emotion, and I determined,
at all hazards, to gratify it. I therefore crawled upon my knees to the
window, so as to let the smallest portion of my head appear above the
sill.

The moon was shining with an uncertain radiance upon the antique grey
buildings, and obliquely upon the narrow court beneath, one side of
which was therefore clearly illuminated, while the other was lost in
obscurity, the sharp outlines of the old gables, with their nodding
clusters of ivy, being at first alone visible.

Whoever or whatever occasioned the noise which had excited my curiosity,
was concealed under the shadow of the dark side of the quadrangle. I
placed my hand over my eyes to shade them from the moonlight, which was
so bright as to be almost dazzling, and, peering into the darkness, I
first dimly, but afterwards gradually, almost with full distinctness,
beheld the form of a man engaged in digging what appeared to be a
rude hole close under the wall. Some implements, probably a shovel and
pickaxe, lay beside him, and to these he every now and then applied
himself as the nature of the ground required. He pursued his task
rapidly, and with as little noise as possible.

'So,' thought I, as, shovelful after shovelful, the dislodged rubbish
mounted into a heap, 'they are digging the grave in which, before two
hours pass, I must lie, a cold, mangled corpse. I am THEIRS--I cannot
escape.'

I felt as if my reason was leaving me. I started to my feet, and in mere
despair I applied myself again to each of the two doors alternately. I
strained every nerve and sinew, but I might as well have attempted, with
my single strength, to force the building itself from its foundation. I
threw myself madly upon the ground, and clasped my hands over my eyes as
if to shut out the horrible images which crowded upon me.

The paroxysm passed away. I prayed once more, with the bitter,
agonised fervour of one who feels that the hour of death is present and
inevitable. When I arose, I went once more to the window and looked out,
just in time to see a shadowy figure glide stealthily along the wall.
The task was finished. The catastrophe of the tragedy must soon be
accomplished.

I determined now to defend my life to the last; and that I might be able
to do so with some effect, I searched the room for something which might
serve as a weapon; but either through accident, or from an anticipation
of such a possibility, everything which might have been made available
for such a purpose had been carefully removed. I must then die tamely
and without an effort to defend myself.

A thought suddenly struck me--might it not be possible to escape through
the door, which the assassin must open in order to enter the room? I
resolved to make the attempt. I felt assured that the door through which
ingress to the room would be effected, was that which opened upon the
lobby. It was the more direct way, besides being, for obvious reasons,
less liable to interruption than the other. I resolved, then, to place
myself behind a projection of the wall, whose shadow would serve fully
to conceal me, and when the door should be opened, and before they
should have discovered the identity of the occupant of the bed, to creep
noiselessly from the room, and then to trust to Providence for escape.

In order to facilitate this scheme, I removed all the lumber which I
had heaped against the door; and I had nearly completed my arrangements,
when I perceived the room suddenly darkened by the close approach of
some shadowy object to the window. On turning my eyes in that direction,
I observed at the top of the casement, as if suspended from above, first
the feet, then the legs, then the body, and at length the whole figure
of a man present himself. It was Edward T----n.

He appeared to be guiding his descent so as to bring his feet upon the
centre of the stone block which occupied the lower part of the window;
and, having secured his footing upon this, he kneeled down and began to
gaze into the room. As the moon was gleaming into the chamber, and the
bed-curtains were drawn, he was able to distinguish the bed itself and
its contents. He appeared satisfied with his scrutiny, for he looked up
and made a sign with his hand, upon which the rope by which his
descent had been effected was slackened from above, and he proceeded to
disengage it from his waist; this accomplished, he applied his hands
to the window-frame, which must have been ingeniously contrived for the
purpose, for, with apparently no resistance, the whole frame, containing
casement and all, slipped from its position in the wall, and was by him
lowered into the room.

The cold night wind waved the bed-curtains, and he paused for a
moment--all was still again--and he stepped in upon the floor of the
room. He held in his hand what appeared to be a steel instrument, shaped
something like a hammer, but larger and sharper at the extremities. This
he held rather behind him, while, with three long, tip-toe strides, he
brought himself to the bedside.

I felt that the discovery must now be made, and held my breath in
momentary expectation of the execration in which he would vent his
surprise and disappointment. I closed my eyes--there was a pause, but
it was a short one. I heard two dull blows, given in rapid succession:
a quivering sigh, and the long-drawn, heavy breathing of the sleeper was
for ever suspended. I unclosed my eyes, and saw the murderer fling the
quilt across the head of his victim: he then, with the instrument of
death still in his hand, proceeded to the lobby-door, upon which he
tapped sharply twice or thrice. A quick step was then heard approaching,
and a voice whispered something from without. Edward answered, with a
kind of chuckle, 'Her ladyship is past complaining; unlock the door, in
the devil's name, unless you're afraid to come in, and help me to lift
the body out of the window.'

The key was turned in the lock--the door opened--and my uncle entered
the room.

I have told you already that I had placed myself under the shade of a
projection of the wall, close to the door. I had instinctively shrunk
down, cowering towards the ground on the entrance of Edward through the
window. When my uncle entered the room he and his son both stood so very
close to me that his hand was every moment upon the point of touching my
face. I held my breath, and remained motionless as death.

'You had no interruption from the next room?' said my uncle.

'No,' was the brief reply.

'Secure the jewels, Ned; the French harpy must not lay her claws upon
them. You're a steady hand, by G----! not much blood--eh?'

'Not twenty drops,' replied his son, 'and those on the quilt.'

'I'm glad it's over,' whispered my uncle again. 'We must lift the--the
THING through the window, and lay the rubbish over it.'

They then turned to the bedside, and, winding the bed-clothes round the
body, carried it between them slowly to the window, and, exchanging
a few brief words with some one below, they shoved it over the
window-sill, and I heard it fall heavily on the ground underneath.

'I'll take the jewels,' said my uncle; 'there are two caskets in the
lower drawer.'

He proceeded, with an accuracy which, had I been more at ease, would
have furnished me with matter of astonishment, to lay his hand upon the
very spot where my jewels lay; and having possessed himself of them, he
called to his son:

'Is the rope made fast above?'

'I'm not a fool--to be sure it is,' replied he.

They then lowered themselves from the window. I now rose lightly and
cautiously, scarcely daring to breathe, from my place of concealment,
and was creeping towards the door, when I heard my cousin's voice, in
a sharp whisper, exclaim: 'Scramble up again! G--d d----n you, you've
forgot to lock the room-door!' and I perceived, by the straining of the
rope which hung from above, that the mandate was instantly obeyed.

Not a second was to be lost. I passed through the door, which was only
closed, and moved as rapidly as I could, consistently with stillness,
along the lobby. Before I had gone many yards, I heard the door through
which I had just passed double-locked on the inside. I glided down the
stairs in terror, lest, at every corner, I should meet the murderer or
one of his accomplices.

I reached the hall, and listened for a moment to ascertain whether all
was silent around; no sound was audible. The parlour windows opened on
the park, and through one of them I might, I thought, easily effect
my escape. Accordingly, I hastily entered; but, to my consternation, a
candle was burning in the room, and by its light I saw a figure seated
at the dinner-table, upon which lay glasses, bottles, and the other
accompaniments of a drinking-party. Two or three chairs were placed
about the table irregularly, as if hastily abandoned by their occupants.

A single glance satisfied me that the figure was that of my French
attendant. She was fast asleep, having probably drank deeply. There
was something malignant and ghastly in the calmness of this bad woman's
features, dimly illuminated as they were by the flickering blaze of
the candle. A knife lay upon the table, and the terrible thought
struck me--'Should I kill this sleeping accomplice in the guilt of the
murderer, and thus secure my retreat?'

Nothing could be easier--it was but to draw the blade across her
throat--the work of a second. An instant's pause, however, corrected
me. 'No,' thought I, 'the God who has conducted me thus far through the
valley of the shadow of death, will not abandon me now. I will fall into
their hands, or I will escape hence, but it shall be free from the stain
of blood. His will be done.'

I felt a confidence arising from this reflection, an assurance of
protection which I cannot describe. There was no other means of escape,
so I advanced, with a firm step and collected mind, to the window. I
noiselessly withdrew the bars and unclosed the shutters--I pushed open
the casement, and, without waiting to look behind me, I ran with my
utmost speed, scarcely feeling the ground under me, down the avenue,
taking care to keep upon the grass which bordered it.

I did not for a moment slack my speed, and I had now gained the centre
point between the park-gate and the mansion-house. Here the avenue made
a wider circuit, and in order to avoid delay, I directed my way across
the smooth sward round which the pathway wound, intending, at the
opposite side of the flat, at a point which I distinguished by a group
of old birch-trees, to enter again upon the beaten track, which was from
thence tolerably direct to the gate.

I had, with my utmost speed, got about half way across this broad flat,
when the rapid treading of a horse's hoofs struck upon my ear. My
heart swelled in my bosom as though I would smother. The clattering of
galloping hoofs approached--I was pursued--they were now upon the sward
on which I was running--there was not a bush or a bramble to shelter
me--and, as if to render escape altogether desperate, the moon, which
had hitherto been obscured, at this moment shone forth with a broad
clear light, which made every object distinctly visible.

The sounds were now close behind me. I felt my knees bending under me,
with the sensation which torments one in dreams. I reeled--I stumbled--I
fell--and at the same instant the cause of my alarm wheeled past me at
full gallop. It was one of the young fillies which pastured loose about
the park, whose frolics had thus all but maddened me with terror.
I scrambled to my feet, and rushed on with weak but rapid steps, my
sportive companion still galloping round and round me with many a
frisk and fling, until, at length, more dead than alive, I reached the
avenue-gate and crossed the stile, I scarce knew how.

I ran through the village, in which all was silent as the grave, until
my progress was arrested by the hoarse voice of a sentinel, who cried:
'Who goes there?' I felt that I was now safe. I turned in the direction
of the voice, and fell fainting at the soldier's feet. When I came to
myself; I was sitting in a miserable hovel, surrounded by strange faces,
all bespeaking curiosity and compassion.

Many soldiers were in it also: indeed, as I afterwards found, it was
employed as a guard-room by a detachment of troops quartered for that
night in the town. In a few words I informed their officer of the
circumstances which had occurred, describing also the appearance of the
persons engaged in the murder; and he, without loss of time, proceeded
to the mansion-house of Carrickleigh, taking with him a party of his
men. But the villains had discovered their mistake, and had effected
their escape before the arrival of the military.

The Frenchwoman was, however, arrested in the neighbourhood upon the
next day. She was tried and condemned upon the ensuing assizes; and
previous to her execution, confessed that 'SHE HAD A HAND IN MAKING HUGH
TISDAL'S BED.' She had been a housekeeper in the castle at the time, and
a kind of chere amie of my uncle's. She was, in reality, able to speak
English like a native, but had exclusively used the French language, I
suppose to facilitate her disguise. She died the same hardened wretch
which she had lived, confessing her crimes only, as she alleged, that
her doing so might involve Sir Arthur T----n, the great author of
her guilt and misery, and whom she now regarded with unmitigated
detestation.

With the particulars of Sir Arthur's and his son's escape, as far as
they are known, you are acquainted. You are also in possession of their
after fate--the terrible, the tremendous retribution which, after long
delays of many years, finally overtook and crushed them. Wonderful and
inscrutable are the dealings of God with His creatures.

Deep and fervent as must always be my gratitude to heaven for my
deliverance, effected by a chain of providential occurrences, the
failing of a single link of which must have ensured my destruction, I
was long before I could look back upon it with other feelings than those
of bitterness, almost of agony.

The only being that had ever really loved me, my nearest and dearest
friend, ever ready to sympathise, to counsel, and to assist--the gayest,
the gentlest, the warmest heart--the only creature on earth that cared
for me--HER life had been the price of my deliverance; and I then
uttered the wish, which no event of my long and sorrowful life has
taught me to recall, that she had been spared, and that, in her stead,
_I_ were mouldering in the grave, forgotten and at rest.



THE BRIDAL OF CARRIGVARAH.

Being a Sixth Extract from the Legacy of the late Francis Purcell, P. P.
of Drumcoolagh.

In a sequestered district of the county of Limerick, there stood my
early life, some forty years ago, one of those strong stone buildings,
half castle, half farm-house, which are not unfrequent in the South of
Ireland, and whose solid masonry and massive construction seem to prove
at once the insecurity and the caution of the Cromwellite settlers who
erected them. At the time of which I speak, this building was tenanted
by an elderly man, whose starch and puritanic mien and manners might
have become the morose preaching parliamentarian captain, who had raised
the house and ruled the household more than a hundred years before;
but this man, though Protestant by descent as by name, was not so in
religion; he was a strict, and in outward observances, an exemplary
Catholic; his father had returned in early youth to the true faith, and
died in the bosom of the church.

Martin Heathcote was, at the time of which I speak, a widower, but his
house-keeping was not on that account altogether solitary, for he had a
daughter, whose age was now sufficiently advanced to warrant her father
in imposing upon her the grave duties of domestic superintendence.

This little establishment was perfectly isolated, and very little
intruded upon by acts of neighbourhood; for the rank of its occupants
was of that equivocal kind which precludes all familiar association
with those of a decidedly inferior rank, while it is not sufficient to
entitle its possessors to the society of established gentility, among
whom the nearest residents were the O'Maras of Carrigvarah, whose
mansion-house, constructed out of the ruins of an old abbey, whose
towers and cloisters had been levelled by the shot of Cromwell's
artillery, stood not half a mile lower upon the river banks.

Colonel O'Mara, the possessor of the estates, was then in a declining
state of health, and absent with his lady from the country, leaving at
the castle, his son young O'Mara, and a kind of humble companion, named
Edward Dwyer, who, if report belied him not, had done in his early days
some PECULIAR SERVICES for the Colonel, who had been a gay man--perhaps
worse--but enough of recapitulation.

It was in the autumn of the year 17-- that the events which led to the
catastrophe which I have to detail occurred. I shall run through the
said recital as briefly as clearness will permit, and leave you to
moralise, if such be your mood, upon the story of real life, which I
even now trace at this distant period not without emotion.

It was upon a beautiful autumn evening, at that glad period of the
season when the harvest yields its abundance, that two figures were seen
sauntering along the banks of the winding river, which I described as
bounding the farm occupied by Heathcote; they had been, as the rods
and landing-nets which they listlessly carried went to show, plying the
gentle, but in this case not altogether solitary craft of the fisherman.
One of those persons was a tall and singularly handsome young man, whose
dark hair and complexion might almost have belonged to a Spaniard,
as might also the proud but melancholy expression which gave to his
countenance a character which contrasts sadly, but not uninterestingly,
with extreme youth; his air, as he spoke with his companion, was marked
by that careless familiarity which denotes a conscious superiority of
one kind or other, or which may be construed into a species of contempt;
his comrade afforded to him in every respect a striking contrast. He
was rather low in stature--a defect which was enhanced by a broad and
square-built figure--his face was sallow, and his features had
that prominence and sharpness which frequently accompany personal
deformity--a remarkably wide mouth, with teeth white as the fangs of a
wolf, and a pair of quick, dark eyes, whose effect was heightened by the
shadow of a heavy black brow, gave to his face a power of expression,
particularly when sarcastic or malignant emotions were to be exhibited,
which features regularly handsome could scarcely have possessed.

'Well, sir,' said the latter personage, 'I have lived in hall and abbey,
town and country, here and abroad for forty years and more, and should
know a thing or two, and as I am a living man, I swear I think the girl
loves you.'

'You are a fool, Ned,' said the younger.

'I may be a fool,' replied the first speaker, 'in matters where my own
advantage is staked, but my eye is keen enough to see through the flimsy
disguise of a country damsel at a glance; and I tell you, as surely as I
hold this rod, the girl loves you.'

'Oh I this is downright headstrong folly,' replied the young fisherman.
'Why, Ned, you try to persuade me against my reason, that the event
which is most to be deprecated has actually occurred. She is, no doubt,
a pretty girl--a beautiful girl--but I have not lost my heart to her;
and why should I wish her to be in love with me? Tush, man, the days of
romance are gone, and a young gentleman may talk, and walk, and laugh
with a pretty country maiden, and never breathe aspirations, or vows,
or sighs about the matter; unequal matches are much oftener read of than
made, and the man who could, even in thought, conceive a wish against
the honour of an unsuspecting, artless girl, is a villain, for whom
hanging is too good.'

This concluding sentence was uttered with an animation and excitement,
which the mere announcement of an abstract moral sentiment could hardly
account for.

'You are, then, indifferent, honestly and in sober earnest, indifferent
to the girl?' inquired Dwyer.

'Altogether so,' was the reply.

'Then I have a request to make,' continued Dwyer, 'and I may as well
urge it now as at any other time. I have been for nearly twenty years
the faithful, and by no means useless, servant of your family; you know
that I have rendered your father critical and important services----' he
paused, and added hastily: 'you are not in the mood--I tire you, sir.'

'Nay,' cried O'Mara, 'I listen patiently--proceed.'

'For all these services, and they were not, as I have said, few or
valueless, I have received little more reward than liberal promises;
you have told me often that this should be mended--I'll make it easily
done--I'm not unreasonable--I should be contented to hold Heathcote's
ground, along with this small farm on which we stand, as full quittance
of all obligations and promises between us.'

'But how the devil can I effect that for you; this farm, it is true, I,
or my father, rather, may lease to you, but Heathcote's title we cannot
impugn; and even if we could, you would not expect us to ruin an honest
man, in order to make way for YOU, Ned.'

'What I am,' replied Dwyer, with the calmness of one who is so
accustomed to contemptuous insinuations as to receive them with perfect
indifference, 'is to be attributed to my devotedness to your honourable
family--but that is neither here nor there. I do not ask you to displace
Heathcote, in order to made room for me. I know it is out of your power
to do so. Now hearken to me for a moment; Heathcote's property, that
which he has set out to tenants, is worth, say in rents, at most, one
hundred pounds: half of this yearly amount is assigned to your father,
until payment be made of a bond for a thousand pounds, with interest and
soforth. Hear me patiently for a moment and I have done. Now go you to
Heathcote, and tell him your father will burn the bond, and cancel the
debt, upon one condition--that when I am in possession of this farm,
which you can lease to me on what terms you think suitable, he will
convey over his property to me, reserving what life-interest may appear
fair, I engaging at the same time to marry his daughter, and make such
settlements upon her as shall be thought fitting--he is not a fool--the
man will close with the offer.'

O'Mara turned shortly upon Dwyer, and gazed upon him for a moment with
an expression of almost unmixed resentment.

'How,' said he at length, 'YOU contract to marry Ellen Heathcote? the
poor, innocent, confiding, light-hearted girl. No, no, Edward Dwyer, I
know you too well for that--your services, be they what they will, must
not, shall not go unrewarded--your avarice shall be appeased--but not
with a human sacrifice! Dwyer, I speak to you without disguise; you
know me to be acquainted with your history, and what's more, with your
character. Now tell me frankly, were I to do as you desire me, in cool
blood, should I not prove myself a more uncompromising and unfeeling
villain than humanity even in its most monstrous shapes has ever yet
given birth to?'

Dwyer met this impetuous language with the unmoved and impenetrable
calmness which always marked him when excitement would have appeared
in others; he even smiled as he replied: (and Dwyer's smile, for I have
seen it, was characteristically of that unfortunate kind which implies,
as regards the emotions of others, not sympathy but derision).

'This eloquence goes to prove Ellen Heathcote something nearer to your
heart than your great indifference would have led me to suppose.'

There was something in the tone, perhaps in the truth of the
insinuation, which at once kindled the quick pride and the anger of
O'Mara, and he instantly replied:

'Be silent, sir, this is insolent folly.'

Whether it was that Dwyer was more keenly interested in the success of
his suit, or more deeply disappointed at its failure than he cared to
express, or that he was in a less complacent mood than was his wont, it
is certain that his countenance expressed more emotion at this direct
insult than it had ever exhibited before under similar circumstances;
for his eyes gleamed for an instant with savage and undisguised ferocity
upon the young man, and a dark glow crossed his brow, and for the moment
he looked about to spring at the throat of his insolent patron; but the
impulse whatever it might be, was quickly suppressed, and before O'Mara
had time to detect the scowl, it had vanished.

'Nay, sir,' said Dwyer, 'I meant no offence, and I will take none, at
your hands at least. I will confess I care not, in love and soforth,
a single bean for the girl; she was the mere channel through which
her father's wealth, if such a pittance deserves the name, was to have
flowed into my possession--'twas in respect of your family finances the
most economical provision for myself which I could devise--a matter in
which you, not I, are interested. As for women, they are all pretty much
alike to me. I am too old myself to make nice distinctions, and too ugly
to succeed by Cupid's arts; and when a man despairs of success, he soon
ceases to care for it. So, if you know me, as you profess to do, rest
satisfied "caeteris paribus;" the money part of the transaction being
equally advantageous, I should regret the loss of Ellen Heathcote just
as little as I should the escape of a minnow from my landing-net.'

They walked on for a few minutes in silence, which was not broken till
Dwyer, who had climbed a stile in order to pass a low stone wall which
lay in their way, exclaimed:

'By the rood, she's here--how like a philosopher you look.'

The conscious blood mounted to O'Mara's cheek; he crossed the stile,
and, separated from him only by a slight fence and a gate, stood the
subject of their recent and somewhat angry discussion.

'God save you, Miss Heathcote,' cried Dwyer, approaching the gate.

The salutation was cheerfully returned, and before anything more could
pass, O'Mara had joined the party.

My friend, that you may understand the strength and depth of those
impetuous passions, that you may account for the fatal infatuation which
led to the catastrophe which I have to relate, I must tell you, that
though I have seen the beauties of cities and of courts, with all
the splendour of studied ornament about them to enhance their graces,
possessing charms which had made them known almost throughout the world,
and worshipped with the incense of a thousand votaries, yet never,
nowhere did I behold a being of such exquisite and touching beauty, as
that possessed by the creature of whom I have just spoken. At the moment
of which I write, she was standing near the gate, close to which several
brown-armed, rosy-cheeked damsels were engaged in milking the peaceful
cows, who stood picturesquely grouped together. She had just thrown
back the hood which is the graceful characteristic of the Irish girl's
attire, so that her small and classic head was quite uncovered, save
only by the dark-brown hair, which with graceful simplicity was parted
above her forehead. There was nothing to shade the clearness of her
beautiful complexion; the delicately-formed features, so exquisite when
taken singly, so indescribable when combined, so purely artless, yet so
meet for all expression. She was a thing so very beautiful, you could
not look on her without feeling your heart touched as by sweet music.
Whose lightest action was a grace--whose lightest word a spell--no
limner's art, though ne'er so perfect, could shadow forth her beauty;
and do I dare with feeble words try to make you see it?(1) Providence
is indeed no respecter of persons, its blessings and its inflictions are
apportioned with an undistinguishing hand, and until the race is over,
and life be done, none can know whether those perfections, which seemed
its goodliest gifts, many not prove its most fatal; but enough of this.


(1) Father Purcell seems to have had an admiration for the beauties of
nature, particularly as developed in the fair sex; a habit of mind which
has been rather improved upon than discontinued by his successors from
Maynooth.--ED.


Dwyer strolled carelessly onward by the banks of the stream, leaving his
young companion leaning over the gate in close and interesting parlance
with Ellen Heathcote; as he moved on, he half thought, half uttered
words to this effect:

'Insolent young spawn of ingratitude and guilt, how long must I submit
to be trod upon thus; and yet why should I murmur--his day is even now
declining--and if I live a year, I shall see the darkness cover him and
his for ever. Scarce half his broad estates shall save him--but I
must wait--I am but a pauper now--a beggar's accusation is always a
libel--they must reward me soon--and were I independent once, I'd make
them feel my power, and feel it SO, that I should die the richest or the
best avenged servant of a great man that has ever been heard of--yes,
I must wait--I must make sure of something at least--I must be able to
stand by myself--and then--and then--' He clutched his fingers together,
as if in the act of strangling the object of his hatred. 'But one thing
shall save him--but one thing only--he shall pay me my own price--and if
he acts liberally, as no doubt he will do, upon compulsion, why he saves
his reputation--perhaps his neck--the insolent young whelp yonder would
speak in an humbler key if he but knew his father's jeopardy--but all in
good time.'

He now stood upon the long, steep, narrow bridge, which crossed the
river close to Carrigvarah, the family mansion of the O'Maras; he looked
back in the direction in which he had left his companion, and leaning
upon the battlement, he ruminated long and moodily. At length he raised
himself and said:

'He loves the girl, and WILL love her more--I have an opportunity of
winning favour, of doing service, which shall bind him to me; yes, he
shall have the girl, if I have art to compass the matter. I must think
upon it.'

He entered the avenue and was soon lost in the distance.

Days and weeks passed on, and young O'Mara daily took his rod and net,
and rambled up the river; and scarce twelve hours elapsed in which some
of those accidents, which invariably bring lovers together, did not
secure him a meeting of longer or shorter duration, with the beautiful
girl whom he so fatally loved.

One evening, after a long interview with her, in which he had been
almost irresistibly prompted to declare his love, and had all but
yielded himself up to the passionate impulse, upon his arrival at home
he found a letter on the table awaiting his return; it was from his
father to the following effect:


          'To Richard O'Mara.
          'September, 17--, L----m, England.

     'MY DEAR SON,--
 'I have just had a severe attack of
my old and almost forgotten enemy, the gout. This I regard as a good
sign; the doctors telling me that it is the safest development of
peccant humours; and I think my chest is less tormenting and oppressed
than I have known it for some years. My chief reason for writing to you
now, as I do it not without difficulty, is to let you know my pleasure
in certain matters, in which I suspect some shameful, and, indeed,
infatuated neglect on your part, "quem perdere vult deus prius
dementat:" how comes it that you have neglected to write to Lady Emily
or any of that family? the understood relation subsisting between you is
one of extreme delicacy, and which calls for marked and courteous, nay,
devoted attention upon your side. Lord ---- is already offended; beware
what you do; for as you will find, if this match be lost by your fault
or folly, by ---- I will cut you off with a shilling. I am not in the
habit of using threats when I do not mean to fulfil them, and that you
well know; however I do not think you have much real cause for alarm in
this case. Lady Emily, who, by the way, looks if possible more charming
than ever, is anything but hard-hearted, at least when YOU solicit; but
do as I desire, and lose no time in making what excuse you may, and
let me hear from you when you can fix a time to join me and your mother
here.

'Your sincere well-wisher and father,

'RICHARD O'MARA.'


In this letter was inclosed a smaller one, directed to Dwyer, and
containing a cheque for twelve pounds, with the following words:


'Make use of the enclosed, and let me hear if Richard is upon any wild
scheme at present: I am uneasy about him, and not without reason; report
to me speedily the result of your vigilance.

'R. O'MARA.'


Dwyer just glanced through this brief, but not unwelcome, epistle; and
deposited it and its contents in the secret recesses of his breeches
pocket, and then fixed his eyes upon the face of his companion, who sat
opposite, utterly absorbed in the perusal of his father's letter, which
he read again and again, pausing and muttering between whiles, and
apparently lost in no very pleasing reflections. At length he very
abruptly exclaimed:

'A delicate epistle, truly--and a politic--would that my tongue had been
burned through before I assented to that doubly-cursed contract. Why, I
am not pledged yet--I am not; there is neither writing, nor troth, nor
word of honour, passed between us. My father has no right to pledge me,
even though I told him I liked the girl, and would wish the match. 'Tis
not enough that my father offers her my heart and hand; he has no right
to do it; a delicate woman would not accept professions made by proxy.
Lady Emily! Lady Emily! with all the tawdry frippery, and finery of
dress and demeanour--compare HER with---- Pshaw! Ridiculous! How blind,
how idiotic I have been.'

He relapsed into moody reflections, which Dwyer did not care to disturb,
and some ten minutes might have passed before he spoke again. When he
did, it was in the calm tone of one who has irrevocably resolved upon
some decided and important act.

'Dwyer,' he said, rising and approaching that person, 'whatever god or
demon told you, even before my own heart knew it, that I loved Ellen
Heathcote, spoke truth. I love her madly--I never dreamed till now
how fervently, how irrevocably, I am hers--how dead to me all other
interests are. Dwyer, I know something of your disposition, and you no
doubt think it strange that I should tell to you, of all persons, SUCH
a secret; but whatever be your faults, I think you are attached to our
family. I am satisfied you will not betray me. I know----'

'Pardon me,' said Dwyer, 'if I say that great professions of confidence
too frequently mark distrust. I have no possible motive to induce me to
betray you; on the contrary, I would gladly assist and direct whatever
plans you may have formed. Command me as you please; I have said
enough.'

'I will not doubt you, Dwyer,' said O'Mara; 'I have taken my
resolution--I have, I think, firmness to act up to it. To marry Ellen
Heathcote, situated as I am, were madness; to propose anything else
were worse, were villainy not to be named. I will leave the country
to-morrow, cost what pain it may, for England. I will at once break off
the proposed alliance with Lady Emily, and will wait until I am my own
master, to open my heart to Ellen. My father may say and do what he
likes; but his passion will not last. He will forgive me; and even were
he to disinherit me, as he threatens, there is some property which
must descend to me, which his will cannot affect. He cannot ruin my
interests; he SHALL NOT ruin my happiness. Dwyer, give me pen and ink; I
will write this moment.'

This bold plan of proceeding for many reasons appeared inexpedient
to Dwyer, and he determined not to consent to its adoption without a
struggle.

'I commend your prudence,' said he, 'in determining to remove yourself
from the fascinating influence which has so long bound you here; but
beware of offending your father. Colonel O'Mara is not a man to forgive
an act of deliberate disobedience, and surely you are not mad enough to
ruin yourself with him by offering an outrageous insult to Lady Emily
and to her family in her person; therefore you must not break off the
understood contract which subsists between you by any formal act--hear
me out patiently. You must let Lady Emily perceive, as you easily may,
without rudeness or even coldness of manner, that she is perfectly
indifferent to you; and when she understands this to be the case, it
she possesses either delicacy or spirit, she will herself break off
the engagement. Make what delay it is possible to effect; it is very
possible that your father, who cannot, in all probability, live many
months, may not live as many days if harassed and excited by such scenes
as your breaking off your engagement must produce.'

'Dwyer,' said O'Mara, 'I will hear you out--proceed.'

'Besides, sir, remember,' he continued, 'the understanding which we have
termed an engagement was entered into without any direct sanction upon
your part; your father has committed HIMSELF, not YOU, to Lord ----.
Before a real contract can subsist, you must be an assenting party
to it. I know of no casuistry subtle enough to involve you in any
engagement whatever, without such an ingredient. Tush! you have an easy
card to play.'

'Well,' said the young man, 'I will think on what you have said; in the
meantime, I will write to my father to announce my immediate departure,
in order to join him.'

'Excuse me,' said Dwyer, 'but I would suggest that by hastening your
departure you but bring your dangers nearer. While you are in this
country a letter now and then keeps everything quiet; but once across
the Channel and with the colonel, you must either quarrel with him to
your own destruction, or you must dance attendance upon Lady Emily with
such assiduity as to commit yourself as completely as if you had been
thrice called with her in the parish church. No, no; keep to this
side of the Channel as long as you decently can. Besides, your sudden
departure must appear suspicious, and will probably excite inquiry.
Every good end likely to be accomplished by your absence will be
effected as well by your departure for Dublin, where you may remain for
three weeks or a month without giving rise to curiosity or doubt of
an unpleasant kind; I would therefore advise you strongly to write
immediately to the colonel, stating that business has occurred to defer
your departure for a month, and you can then leave this place, if you
think fit, immediately, that is, within a week or so.'

Young O'Mara was not hard to be persuaded. Perhaps it was that,
unacknowledged by himself, any argument which recommended his staying,
even for an hour longer than his first decision had announced, in
the neighbourhood of Ellen Heathcote, appeared peculiarly cogent and
convincing; however this may have been, it is certain that he followed
the counsel of his cool-headed follower, who retired that night to bed
with the pleasing conviction that he was likely soon to involve
his young patron in all the intricacies of disguise and intrigue--a
consummation which would leave him totally at the mercy of the favoured
confidant who should possess his secret.


Young O'Mara's reflections were more agitating and less satisfactory
than those of his companion. He resolved upon leaving the country before
two days had passed. He felt that he could not fairly seek to involve
Ellen Heathcote in his fate by pledge or promise, until he had
extricated himself from those trammels which constrained and embarrassed
all his actions. His determination was so far prudent; but, alas! he
also resolved that it was but right, but necessary, that he should see
her before his departure. His leaving the country without a look or a
word of parting kindness interchanged, must to her appear an act of cold
and heartless caprice; he could not bear the thought.

'No,' said he, 'I am not child enough to say more than prudence tells
me ought to say; this cowardly distrust of my firmness I should and will
contemn. Besides, why should I commit myself? It is possible the girl
may not care for me. No, no; I need not shrink from this interview.
I have no reason to doubt my firmness--none--none. I must cease to
be governed by impulse. I am involved in rocks and quicksands; and a
collected spirit, a quick eye, and a steady hand, alone can pilot me
through. God grant me a safe voyage!'

The next day came, and young O'Mara did not take his fishing-rod as
usual, but wrote two letters; the one to his father, announcing his
intention of departing speedily for England; the other to Lady Emily,
containing a cold but courteous apology for his apparent neglect. Both
these were despatched to the post-office that evening, and upon the next
morning he was to leave the country.

Upon the night of the momentous day of which we have just spoken, Ellen
Heathcote glided silently and unperceived from among the busy crowds
who were engaged in the gay dissipation furnished by what is in Ireland
commonly called a dance (the expenses attendant upon which, music, etc.,
are defrayed by a subscription of one halfpenny each), and having
drawn her mantle closely about her, was proceeding with quick steps to
traverse the small field which separated her from her father's abode.
She had not walked many yards when she became aware that a solitary
figure, muffled in a cloak, stood in the pathway. It approached; a low
voice whispered:

'Ellen.'

'Is it you, Master Richard?' she replied.

He threw back the cloak which had concealed his features.

'It is I, Ellen, he said; 'I have been watching for you. I will not
delay you long.'

He took her hand, and she did not attempt to withdraw it; for she was
too artless to think any evil, too confiding to dread it.

'Ellen,' he continued, even now unconsciously departing from the rigid
course which prudence had marked out; 'Ellen, I am going to leave the
country; going to-morrow. I have had letters from England. I must go;
and the sea will soon be between us.'

He paused, and she was silent.

'There is one request, one entreaty I have to make,' he continued; 'I
would, when I am far away, have something to look at which belonged
to you. Will you give me--do not refuse it--one little lock of your
beautiful hair?'

With artless alacrity, but with trembling hand, she took the scissors,
which in simple fashion hung by her side, and detached one of the long
and beautiful locks which parted over her forehead. She placed it in his
hand.

Again he took her hand, and twice he attempted to speak in vain; at
length he said:

'Ellen, when I am gone--when I am away--will you sometimes remember,
sometimes think of me?'

Ellen Heathcote had as much, perhaps more, of what is noble in pride
than the haughtiest beauty that ever trod a court; but the effort was
useless; the honest struggle was in vain; and she burst into floods of
tears, bitterer than she had ever shed before.

I cannot tell how passions rise and fall; I cannot describe the
impetuous words of the young lover, as pressing again and again to his
lips the cold, passive hand, which had been resigned to him, prudence,
caution, doubts, resolutions, all vanished from his view, and melted
into nothing. 'Tis for me to tell the simple fact, that from that brief
interview they both departed promised and pledged to each other for
ever.

Through the rest of this story events follow one another rapidly.

A few nights after that which I have just mentioned, Ellen Heathcote
disappeared; but her father was not left long in suspense as to her
fate, for Dwyer, accompanied by one of those mendicant friars who
traversed the country then even more commonly than they now do, called
upon Heathcote before he had had time to take any active measures for
the recovery of his child, and put him in possession of a document
which appeared to contain satisfactory evidence of the marriage of Ellen
Heathcote with Richard O'Mara, executed upon the evening previous, as
the date went to show; and signed by both parties, as well as by Dwyer
and a servant of young O'Mara's, both these having acted as witnesses;
and further supported by the signature of Peter Nicholls, a brother of
the order of St. Francis, by whom the ceremony had been performed, and
whom Heathcote had no difficulty in recognising in the person of his
visitant.

This document, and the prompt personal visit of the two men, and above
all, the known identity of the Franciscan, satisfied Heathcote as
fully as anything short of complete publicity could have done. And his
conviction was not a mistaken one.

Dwyer, before he took his leave, impressed upon Heathcote the necessity
of keeping the affair so secret as to render it impossible that it
should reach Colonel O'Mara's ears, an event which would have been
attended with ruinous consequences to all parties. He refused, also,
to permit Heathcote to see his daughter, and even to tell him where she
was, until circumstances rendered it safe for him to visit her.

Heathcote was a harsh and sullen man; and though his temper was anything
but tractable, there was so much to please, almost to dazzle him, in the
event, that he accepted the terms which Dwyer imposed upon him without
any further token of disapprobation than a shake of the head, and a
gruff wish that 'it might prove all for the best.'

Nearly two months had passed, and young O'Mara had not yet departed
for England. His letters had been strangely few and far between; and in
short, his conduct was such as to induce Colonel O'Mara to hasten his
return to Ireland, and at the same time to press an engagement, which
Lord ----, his son Captain N----, and Lady Emily had made to spend some
weeks with him at his residence in Dublin.

A letter arrived for young O'Mara, stating the arrangement, and
requiring his attendance in Dublin, which was accordingly immediately
afforded.

He arrived, with Dwyer, in time to welcome his father and his
distinguished guests. He resolved to break off his embarrassing
connection with Lady Emily, without, however, stating the real motive,
which he felt would exasperate the resentment which his father and Lord
---- would no doubt feel at his conduct.

He strongly felt how dishonourably he would act if, in obedience to
Dwyer's advice, he seemed tacitly to acquiesce in an engagement which
it was impossible for him to fulfil. He knew that Lady Emily was not
capable of anything like strong attachment; and that even if she were,
he had no reason whatever to suppose that she cared at all for him.

He had not at any time desired the alliance; nor had he any reason to
suppose the young lady in any degree less indifferent. He regarded it
now, and not without some appearance of justice, as nothing more than a
kind of understood stipulation, entered into by their parents, and to
be considered rather as a matter of business and calculation than as
involving anything of mutual inclination on the part of the parties most
nearly interested in the matter.

He anxiously, therefore, watched for an opportunity of making known
his feelings to Lord ----, as he could not with propriety do so to
Lady Emily; but what at a distance appeared to be a matter of easy
accomplishment, now, upon a nearer approach, and when the immediate
impulse which had prompted the act had subsided, appeared so full of
difficulty and almost inextricable embarrassments, that he involuntarily
shrunk from the task day after day.

Though it was a source of indescribable anxiety to him, he did not
venture to write to Ellen, for he could not disguise from himself the
danger which the secrecy of his connection with her must incur by
his communicating with her, even through a public office, where
their letters might be permitted to lie longer than the gossiping
inquisitiveness of a country town would warrant him in supposing safe.

It was about a fortnight after young O'Mara had arrived in Dublin, where
all things, and places, and amusements; and persons seemed thoroughly
stale, flat, and unprofitable, when one day, tempted by the unusual
fineness of the weather, Lady Emily proposed a walk in the College Park,
a favourite promenade at that time. She therefore with young O'Mara,
accompanied by Dwyer (who, by-the-by, when he pleased, could act the
gentleman sufficiently well), proceeded to the place proposed, where
they continued to walk for some time.

'Why, Richard,' said Lady Emily, after a tedious and unbroken pause
of some minutes, 'you are becoming worse and worse every day. You are
growing absolutely intolerable; perfectly stupid! not one good thing
have I heard since I left the house.'

O'Mara smiled, and was seeking for a suitable reply, when his design was
interrupted, and his attention suddenly and painfully arrested, by the
appearance of two figures, who were slowly passing the broad walk on
which he and his party moved; the one was that of Captain N----, the
other was the form of--Martin Heathcote!

O'Mara felt confounded, almost stunned; the anticipation of some
impending mischief--of an immediate and violent collision with a young
man whom he had ever regarded as his friend, were apprehensions which
such a juxtaposition could not fail to produce.

'Is Heathcote mad?' thought he. 'What devil can have brought him here?'

Dwyer having exchanged a significant glance with O'Mara, said slightly
to Lady Emily:

'Will your ladyship excuse me for a moment? I have a word to say to
Captain N----, and will, with your permission, immediately rejoin you.'

He bowed, and walking rapidly on, was in a few moments beside the object
of his and his patron's uneasiness.

Whatever Heathcote's object might be, he certainly had not yet declared
the secret, whose safety O'Mara had so naturally desired, for Captain
N---- appeared in good spirits; and on coming up to his sister and her
companion, he joined them for a moment, telling O'Mara, laughingly, that
an old quiz had come from the country for the express purpose of
telling tales, as it was to be supposed, of him (young O'Mara), in whose
neighbourhood he lived.

During this speech it required all the effort which it was possible to
exert to prevent O'Mara's betraying the extreme agitation to which his
situation gave rise. Captain N----, however, suspected nothing, and
passed on without further delay.

Dinner was an early meal in those days, and Lady Emily was obliged to
leave the Park in less than half an hour after the unpleasant meeting
which we have just mentioned.

Young O'Mara and, at a sign from him, Dwyer having escorted the lady
to the door of Colonel O'Mara's house, pretended an engagement, and
departed together.

Richard O'Mara instantly questioned his comrade upon the subject of his
anxiety; but Dwyer had nothing to communicate of a satisfactory nature.
He had only time, while the captain had been engaged with Lady Emily and
her companion, to say to Heathcote:

'Be secret, as you value your existence: everything will be right, if
you be but secret.'

To this Heathcote had replied: 'Never fear me; I understand what I am
about.'

This was said in such an ambiguous manner that it was impossible to
conjecture whether he intended or not to act upon Dwyer's exhortation.
The conclusion which appeared most natural, was by no means an agreeable
one.

It was much to be feared that Heathcote having heard some vague report
of O'Mara's engagement with Lady Emily, perhaps exaggerated, by the
repetition, into a speedily approaching marriage, had become alarmed for
his daughter's interest, and had taken this decisive step in order to
prevent, by a disclosure of the circumstances of his clandestine union
with Ellen, the possibility of his completing a guilty alliance with
Captain N----'s sister. If he entertained the suspicions which they
attributed to him, he had certainly taken the most effectual means to
prevent their being realised. Whatever his object might be, his presence
in Dublin, in company with Captain N----, boded nothing good to O'Mara.

They entered ----'s tavern, in Dame Street, together; and there, over a
hasty and by no means a comfortable meal, they talked over their plans
and conjectures. Evening closed in, and found them still closeted
together, with nothing to interrupt, and a large tankard of claret to
sustain their desultory conversation.

Nothing had been determined upon, except that Dwyer and O'Mara should
proceed under cover of the darkness to search the town for Heathcote,
and by minute inquiries at the most frequented houses of entertainment,
to ascertain his place of residence, in order to procuring a full and
explanatory interview with him. They had each filled their last glass,
and were sipping it slowly, seated with their feet stretched towards
a bright cheerful fire; the small table which sustained the flagon of
which we have spoken, together with two pair of wax candles, placed
between them, so as to afford a convenient resting-place for the long
glasses out of which they drank.

'One good result, at all events, will be effected by Heathcote's visit,'
said O'Mara. 'Before twenty-four hours I shall do that which I should
have done long ago. I shall, without reserve, state everything. I can no
longer endure this suspense--this dishonourable secrecy--this apparent
dissimulation. Every moment I have passed since my departure from
the country has been one of embarrassment, of pain, of humiliation.
To-morrow I will brave the storm, whether successfully or not is
doubtful; but I had rather walk the high roads a beggar, than submit
a day longer to be made the degraded sport of every accident--the
miserable dependent upon a successful system of deception. Though
PASSIVE deception, it is still unmanly, unworthy, unjustifiable
deception. I cannot bear to think of it. I despise myself, but I will
cease to be the despicable thing I have become. To-morrow sees me free,
and this harassing subject for ever at rest.'

He was interrupted here by the sound of footsteps heavily but rapidly
ascending the tavern staircase. The room door opened, and Captain N----,
accompanied by a fashionably-attired young man, entered the room.

Young O'Mara had risen from his seat on the entrance of their unexpected
visitants; and the moment Captain N---- recognised his person, an
evident and ominous change passed over his countenance. He turned
hastily to withdraw, but, as it seemed, almost instantly changed his
mind, for he turned again abruptly.

'This chamber is engaged, sir,' said the waiter.

'Leave the room, sir,' was his only reply.

'The room is engaged, sir,' repeated the waiter, probably believing that
his first suggestion had been unheard.

'Leave the room, or go to hell!' shouted Captain N----; at the same time
seizing the astounded waiter by the shoulder, he hurled him headlong
into the passage, and flung the door to with a crash that shook the
walls. 'Sir,' continued he, addressing himself to O'Mara, 'I did not
hope to have met you until to-morrow. Fortune has been kind to me--draw,
and defend yourself.'

At the same time he drew his sword, and placed himself in an attitude of
attack.

'I will not draw upon YOU,' said O'Mara. 'I have, indeed, wronged you.
I have given you just cause for resentment; but against your life I will
never lift my hand.'

'You are a coward, sir,' replied Captain N----, with almost frightful
vehemence, 'as every trickster and swindler IS. You are a contemptible
dastard--a despicable, damned villain! Draw your sword, sir, and
defend your life, or every post and pillar in this town shall tell your
infamy.'

'Perhaps,' said his friend, with a sneer, 'the gentleman can do better
without his honour than without his wife.'

'Yes,' shouted the captain, 'his wife--a trull--a common----'

'Silence, sir!' cried O'Mara, all the fierceness of his nature roused
by this last insult--'your object is gained; your blood be upon your own
head.' At the same time he sprang across a bench which stood in his way,
and pushing aside the table which supported the lights, in an instant
their swords crossed, and they were engaged in close and deadly strife.

Captain N---- was far the stronger of the two; but, on the other hand,
O'Mara possessed far more skill in the use of the fatal weapon which
they employed. But the narrowness of the room rendered this advantage
hardly available.

Almost instantly O'Mara received a slight wound upon the forehead,
which, though little more than a scratch, bled so fast as to obstruct
his sight considerably.

Those who have used the foil can tell how slight a derangement of eye
or of hand is sufficient to determine a contest of this kind; and this
knowledge will prevent their being surprised when I say, that, spite of
O'Mara's superior skill and practice, his adversary's sword passed twice
through and through his body, and he fell heavily and helplessly upon
the floor of the chamber.

Without saying a word, the successful combatant quitted the room along
with his companion, leaving Dwyer to shift as best he might for his
fallen comrade.

With the assistance of some of the wondering menials of the place, Dwyer
succeeded in conveying the wounded man into an adjoining room, where he
was laid upon a bed, in a state bordering upon insensibility--the blood
flowing, I might say WELLING, from the wounds so fast as to show that
unless the bleeding were speedily and effectually stopped, he could not
live for half an hour.

Medical aid was, of course, instantly procured, and Colonel O'Mara,
though at the time seriously indisposed, was urgently requested to
attend without loss of time. He did so; but human succour and support
were all too late. The wound had been truly dealt--the tide of life had
ebbed; and his father had not arrived five minutes when young O'Mara
was a corpse. His body rests in the vaults of Christ Church, in Dublin,
without a stone to mark the spot.

The counsels of the wicked are always dark, and their motives often
beyond fathoming; and strange, unaccountable, incredible as it may seem,
I do believe, and that upon evidence so clear as to amount almost to
demonstration, that Heathcote's visit to Dublin--his betrayal of the
secret--and the final and terrible catastrophe which laid O'Mara in the
grave, were brought about by no other agent than Dwyer himself.

I have myself seen the letter which induced that visit. The handwriting
is exactly what I have seen in other alleged specimens of Dwyer's
penmanship. It is written with an affectation of honest alarm at
O'Mara's conduct, and expresses a conviction that if some of Lady
Emily's family be not informed of O'Mara's real situation, nothing could
prevent his concluding with her an advantageous alliance, then upon
the tapis, and altogether throwing off his allegiance to Ellen--a
step which, as the writer candidly asserted, would finally conduce as
inevitably to his own disgrace as it immediately would to her ruin and
misery.

The production was formally signed with Dwyer's name, and the postscript
contained a strict injunction of secrecy, asserting that if it were
ascertained that such an epistle had been despatched from such a
quarter, it would be attended with the total ruin of the writer.

It is true that Dwyer, many years after, when this letter came to light,
alleged it to be a forgery, an assertion whose truth, even to his dying
hour, and long after he had apparently ceased to feel the lash of public
scorn, he continued obstinately to maintain. Indeed this matter is full
of mystery, for, revenge alone excepted, which I believe, in such
minds as Dwyer's, seldom overcomes the sense of interest, the only
intelligible motive which could have prompted him to such an act was the
hope that since he had, through young O'Mara's interest, procured
from the colonel a lease of a small farm upon the terms which he had
originally stipulated, he might prosecute his plan touching the property
of Martin Heathcote, rendering his daughter's hand free by the removal
of young O'Mara. This appears to me too complicated a plan of villany
to have entered the mind even of such a man as Dwyer. I must, therefore,
suppose his motives to have originated out of circumstances connected
with this story which may not have come to my ear, and perhaps never
will.

Colonel O'Mara felt the death of his son more deeply than I should have
thought possible; but that son had been the last being who had continued
to interest his cold heart. Perhaps the pride which he felt in his child
had in it more of selfishness than of any generous feeling. But, be this
as it may, the melancholy circumstances connected with Ellen Heathcote
had reached him, and his conduct towards her proved, more strongly than
anything else could have done, that he felt keenly and justly, and, to a
certain degree, with a softened heart, the fatal event of which she had
been, in some manner, alike the cause and the victim.

He evinced not towards her, as might have been expected, any
unreasonable resentment. On the contrary, he exhibited great
consideration, even tenderness, for her situation; and having
ascertained where his son had placed her, he issued strict orders that
she should not be disturbed, and that the fatal tidings, which had not
yet reached her, should be withheld until they might be communicated in
such a way as to soften as much as possible the inevitable shock.

These last directions were acted upon too scrupulously and too long;
and, indeed, I am satisfied that had the event been communicated at
once, however terrible and overwhelming the shock might have been, much
of the bitterest anguish, of sickening doubts, of harassing suspense,
would have been spared her, and the first tempestuous burst of sorrow
having passed over, her chastened spirit might have recovered its tone,
and her life have been spared. But the mistaken kindness which concealed
from her the dreadful truth, instead of relieving her mind of a burden
which it could not support, laid upon it a weight of horrible fears
and doubts as to the affection of O'Mara, compared with which even the
certainty of his death would have been tolerable.

One evening I had just seated myself beside a cheerful turf fire, with
that true relish which a long cold ride through a bleak and shelterless
country affords, stretching my chilled limbs to meet the genial
influence, and imbibing the warmth at every pore, when my comfortable
meditations were interrupted by a long and sonorous ringing at the
door-bell evidently effected by no timid hand.

A messenger had arrived to request my attendance at the Lodge--such was
the name which distinguished a small and somewhat antiquated building,
occupying a peculiarly secluded position among the bleak and heathy
hills which varied the surface of that not altogether uninteresting
district, and which had, I believe, been employed by the keen and hardy
ancestors of the O'Mara family as a convenient temporary residence
during the sporting season.

Thither my attendance was required, in order to administer to a deeply
distressed lady such comforts as an afflicted mind can gather from the
sublime hopes and consolations of Christianity.

I had long suspected that the occupant of this sequestered, I might
say desolate, dwelling-house was the poor girl whose brief story we are
following; and feeling a keen interest in her fate--as who that had ever
seen her DID NOT?--I started from my comfortable seat with more eager
alacrity than, I will confess it, I might have evinced had my duty
called me in another direction.

In a few minutes I was trotting rapidly onward, preceded by my guide,
who urged his horse with the remorseless rapidity of one who seeks by
the speed of his progress to escape observation. Over roads and through
bogs we splashed and clattered, until at length traversing the brow of
a wild and rocky hill, whose aspect seemed so barren and forbidding that
it might have been a lasting barrier alike to mortal sight and step, the
lonely building became visible, lying in a kind of swampy flat, with a
broad reedy pond or lake stretching away to its side, and backed by a
farther range of monotonous sweeping hills, marked with irregular
lines of grey rock, which, in the distance, bore a rude and colossal
resemblance to the walls of a fortification.

Riding with undiminished speed along a kind of wild horse-track, we
turned the corner of a high and somewhat ruinous wall of loose stones,
and making a sudden wheel we found ourselves in a small quadrangle,
surmounted on two sides by dilapidated stables and kennels, on another
by a broken stone wall, and upon the fourth by the front of the lodge
itself.

The whole character of the place was that of dreary desertion and
decay, which would of itself have predisposed the mind for melancholy
impressions. My guide dismounted, and with respectful attention held
my horse's bridle while I got down; and knocking at the door with the
handle of his whip, it was speedily opened by a neatly-dressed female
domestic, and I was admitted to the interior of the house, and conducted
into a small room, where a fire in some degree dispelled the cheerless
air, which would otherwise have prevailed to a painful degree throughout
the place.

I had been waiting but for a very few minutes when another female
servant, somewhat older than the first, entered the room. She made some
apology on the part of the person whom I had come to visit, for the
slight delay which had already occurred, and requested me further to
wait for a few minutes longer, intimating that the lady's grief was so
violent, that without great effort she could not bring herself to speak
calmly at all. As if to beguile the time, the good dame went on in a
highly communicative strain to tell me, amongst much that could not
interest me, a little of what I had desired to hear. I discovered that
the grief of her whom I had come to visit was excited by the sudden
death of a little boy, her only child, who was then lying dead in his
mother's chamber.

'And the mother's name?' said I, inquiringly.

The woman looked at me for a moment, smiled, and shook her head with
the air of mingled mystery and importance which seems to say, 'I am
unfathomable.' I did not care to press the question, though I suspected
that much of her apparent reluctance was affected, knowing that my
doubts respecting the identity of the person whom I had come to visit
must soon be set at rest, and after a little pause the worthy Abigail
went on as fluently as ever. She told me that her young mistress had
been, for the time she had been with her--that was, for about a year
and a half--in declining health and spirits, and that she had loved her
little child to a degree beyond expression--so devotedly that she could
not, in all probability, survive it long.

While she was running on in this way the bell rang, and signing me to
follow, she opened the room door, but stopped in the hall, and taking me
a little aside, and speaking in a whisper, she told me, as I valued the
life of the poor lady, not to say one word of the death of young O'Mara.
I nodded acquiescence, and ascending a narrow and ill-constructed
staircase, she stopped at a chamber door and knocked.

'Come in,' said a gentle voice from within, and, preceded by my
conductress, I entered a moderately-sized, but rather gloomy chamber.

There was but one living form within it--it was the light and graceful
figure of a young woman. She had risen as I entered the room; but owing
to the obscurity of the apartment, and to the circumstance that her
face, as she looked towards the door, was turned away from the light,
which found its way in dimly through the narrow windows, I could not
instantly recognise the features.

'You do not remember me, sir?' said the same low, mournful voice. 'I
am--I WAS--Ellen Heathcote.'

'I do remember you, my poor child,' said I, taking her hand; 'I do
remember you very well. Speak to me frankly--speak to me as a friend.
Whatever I can do or say for you, is yours already; only speak.'

'You were always very kind, sir, to those--to those that WANTED
kindness.'

The tears were almost overflowing, but she checked them; and as if
an accession of fortitude had followed the momentary weakness,
she continued, in a subdued but firm tone, to tell me briefly the
circumstances of her marriage with O'Mara. When she had concluded the
recital, she paused for a moment; and I asked again:

'Can I aid you in any way--by advice or otherwise?'

'I wish, sir, to tell you all I have been thinking about,' she
continued. 'I am sure, sir, that Master Richard loved me once--I am sure
he did not think to deceive me; but there were bad, hard-hearted people
about him, and his family were all rich and high, and I am sure he
wishes NOW that he had never, never seen me. Well, sir, it is not in
my heart to blame him. What was _I_ that I should look at him?--an
ignorant, poor, country girl--and he so high and great, and so
beautiful. The blame was all mine--it was all my fault; I could not
think or hope he would care for me more than a little time. Well, sir,
I thought over and over again that since his love was gone from me for
ever, I should not stand in his way, and hinder whatever great thing
his family wished for him. So I thought often and often to write him
a letter to get the marriage broken, and to send me home; but for one
reason, I would have done it long ago: there was a little child, his and
mine--the dearest, the loveliest.' She could not go on for a minute or
two. 'The little child that is lying there, on that bed; but it is dead
and gone, and there is no reason NOW why I should delay any more about
it.'

She put her hand into her breast, and took out a letter, which she
opened. She put it into my hands. It ran thus:

     'DEAR MASTER RICHARD,
   'My little child is dead, and your
happiness is all I care about now. Your marriage with me is displeasing
to your family, and I would be a burden to you, and in your way in the
fine places, and among the great friends where you must be. You ought,
therefore, to break the marriage, and I will sign whatever YOU wish, or
your family. I will never try to blame you, Master Richard--do not think
it--for I never deserved your love, and must not complain now that I
have lost it; but I will always pray for you, and be thinking of you
while I live.'

While I read this letter, I was satisfied that so far from adding to the
poor girl's grief, a full disclosure of what had happened would, on the
contrary, mitigate her sorrow, and deprive it of its sharpest sting.

'Ellen,' said I solemnly, 'Richard O'Mara was never unfaithful to you;
he is now where human reproach can reach him no more.'

As I said this, the hectic flush upon her cheek gave place to a paleness
so deadly, that I almost thought she would drop lifeless upon the spot.

'Is he--is he dead, then?' said she, wildly.

I took her hand in mine, and told her the sad story as best I could. She
listened with a calmness which appeared almost unnatural, until I
had finished the mournful narration. She then arose, and going to the
bedside, she drew the curtain and gazed silently and fixedly on the
quiet face of the child: but the feelings which swelled at her heart
could not be suppressed; the tears gushed forth, and sobbing as if her
heart would break, she leant over the bed and took the dead child in her
arms.

She wept and kissed it, and kissed it and wept again, in grief so
passionate, so heartrending, as to draw bitter tears from my eyes. I
said what little I could to calm her--to have sought to do more would
have been a mockery; and observing that the darkness had closed in,
I took my leave and departed, being favoured with the services of my
former guide.

I expected to have been soon called upon again to visit the poor
girl; but the Lodge lay beyond the boundary of my parish, and I felt a
reluctance to trespass upon the precincts of my brother minister, and a
certain degree of hesitation in intruding upon one whose situation was
so very peculiar, and who would, I had no doubt, feel no scruple in
requesting my attendance if she desired it.

A month, however, passed away, and I did not hear anything of Ellen. I
called at the Lodge, and to my inquiries they answered that she was very
much worse in health, and that since the death of the child she had been
sinking fast, and so weak that she had been chiefly confined to her bed.
I sent frequently to inquire, and often called myself, and all that I
heard convinced me that she was rapidly sinking into the grave.

Late one night I was summoned from my rest, by a visit from the person
who had upon the former occasion acted as my guide; he had come to
summon me to the death-bed of her whom I had then attended. With
all celerity I made my preparations, and, not without considerable
difficulty and some danger, we made a rapid night-ride to the Lodge, a
distance of five miles at least. We arrived safely, and in a very short
time--but too late.

I stood by the bed upon which lay the once beautiful form of Ellen
Heathcote. The brief but sorrowful trial was past--the desolate mourner
was gone to that land where the pangs of grief, the tumults of passion,
regrets and cold neglect, are felt no more. I leant over the lifeless
face, and scanned the beautiful features which, living, had wrought such
magic on all that looked upon them. They were, indeed, much wasted; but
it was impossible for the fingers of death or of decay altogether
to obliterate the traces of that exquisite beauty which had so
distinguished her. As I gazed on this most sad and striking spectacle,
remembrances thronged fast upon my mind, and tear after tear fell upon
the cold form that slept tranquilly and for ever.

A few days afterwards I was told that a funeral had left the Lodge
at the dead of night, and had been conducted with the most scrupulous
secrecy. It was, of course, to me no mystery.

Heathcote lived to a very advanced age, being of that hard mould which
is not easily impressionable. The selfish and the hard-hearted survive
where nobler, more generous, and, above all, more sympathising natures
would have sunk for ever.

Dwyer certainly succeeded in extorting, I cannot say how, considerable
and advantageous leases from Colonel O'Mara; but after his death he
disposed of his interest in these, and having for a time launched into a
sea of profligate extravagance, he became bankrupt, and for a long time
I totally lost sight of him.

The rebellion of '98, and the events which immediately followed, called
him forth from his lurking-places, in the character of an informer; and
I myself have seen the hoary-headed, paralytic perjurer, with a scowl
of derision and defiance, brave the hootings and the execrations of the
indignant multitude.



STRANGE EVENT IN THE LIFE OF SCHALKEN THE PAINTER.

     Being a Seventh Extract from the Legacy of the late Francis
     Purcell, P. P. of Drumcoolagh.

You will no doubt be surprised, my dear friend, at the subject of the
following narrative. What had I to do with Schalken, or Schalken with
me? He had returned to his native land, and was probably dead and
buried, before I was born; I never visited Holland nor spoke with a
native of that country. So much I believe you already know. I must,
then, give you my authority, and state to you frankly the ground upon
which rests the credibility of the strange story which I am, about to
lay before you.

I was acquainted, in my early days, with a Captain Vandael, whose father
had served King William in the Low Countries, and also in my own unhappy
land during the Irish campaigns. I know not how it happened that I liked
this man's society, spite of his politics and religion: but so it was;
and it was by means of the free intercourse to which our intimacy gave
rise that I became possessed of the curious tale which you are about to
hear.

I had often been struck, while visiting Vandael, by a remarkable
picture, in which, though no connoisseur myself, I could not fail to
discern some very strong peculiarities, particularly in the distribution
of light and shade, as also a certain oddity in the design itself, which
interested my curiosity. It represented the interior of what might be a
chamber in some antique religious building--the foreground was occupied
by a female figure, arrayed in a species of white robe, part of which is
arranged so as to form a veil. The dress, however, is not strictly that
of any religious order. In its hand the figure bears a lamp, by whose
light alone the form and face are illuminated; the features are marked
by an arch smile, such as pretty women wear when engaged in successfully
practising some roguish trick; in the background, and, excepting where
the dim red light of an expiring fire serves to define the form, totally
in the shade, stands the figure of a man equipped in the old fashion,
with doublet and so forth, in an attitude of alarm, his hand being
placed upon the hilt of his sword, which he appears to be in the act of
drawing.

'There are some pictures,' said I to my friend, 'which impress one, I
know not how, with a conviction that they represent not the mere ideal
shapes and combinations which have floated through the imagination
of the artist, but scenes, faces, and situations which have actually
existed. When I look upon that picture, something assures me that I
behold the representation of a reality.'

Vandael smiled, and, fixing his eyes upon the painting musingly, he
said:

'Your fancy has not deceived you, my good friend, for that picture is
the record, and I believe a faithful one, of a remarkable and mysterious
occurrence. It was painted by Schalken, and contains, in the face of the
female figure, which occupies the most prominent place in the design,
an accurate portrait of Rose Velderkaust, the niece of Gerard Douw, the
first and, I believe, the only love of Godfrey Schalken. My father knew
the painter well, and from Schalken himself he learned the story of
the mysterious drama, one scene of which the picture has embodied. This
painting, which is accounted a fine specimen of Schalken's style, was
bequeathed to my father by the artist's will, and, as you have observed,
is a very striking and interesting production.'

I had only to request Vandael to tell the story of the painting in order
to be gratified; and thus it is that I am enabled to submit to you a
faithful recital of what I heard myself, leaving you to reject or to
allow the evidence upon which the truth of the tradition depends, with
this one assurance, that Schalken was an honest, blunt Dutchman, and,
I believe, wholly incapable of committing a flight of imagination; and
further, that Vandael, from whom I heard the story, appeared firmly
convinced of its truth.

There are few forms upon which the mantle of mystery and romance
could seem to hang more ungracefully than upon that of the uncouth and
clownish Schalken--the Dutch boor--the rude and dogged, but most cunning
worker in oils, whose pieces delight the initiated of the present day
almost as much as his manners disgusted the refined of his own; and yet
this man, so rude, so dogged, so slovenly, I had almost said so savage,
in mien and manner, during his after successes, had been selected by
the capricious goddess, in his early life, to figure as the hero of a
romance by no means devoid of interest or of mystery.

Who can tell how meet he may have been in his young days to play the
part of the lover or of the hero--who can say that in early life he had
been the same harsh, unlicked, and rugged boor that, in his maturer age,
he proved--or how far the neglected rudeness which afterwards marked
his air, and garb, and manners, may not have been the growth of that
reckless apathy not unfrequently produced by bitter misfortunes and
disappointments in early life?

These questions can never now be answered.

We must content ourselves, then, with a plain statement of facts, or
what have been received and transmitted as such, leaving matters of
speculation to those who like them.

When Schalken studied under the immortal Gerard Douw, he was a young
man; and in spite of the phlegmatic constitution and unexcitable manner
which he shared, we believe, with his countrymen, he was not incapable
of deep and vivid impressions, for it is an established fact that the
young painter looked with considerable interest upon the beautiful niece
of his wealthy master.

Rose Velderkaust was very young, having, at the period of which we
speak, not yet attained her seventeenth year, and, if tradition speaks
truth, possessed all the soft dimpling charms of the fail; light-haired
Flemish maidens. Schalken had not studied long in the school of Gerard
Douw, when he felt this interest deepening into something of a keener
and intenser feeling than was quite consistent with the tranquillity of
his honest Dutch heart; and at the same time he perceived, or thought he
perceived, flattering symptoms of a reciprocity of liking, and this
was quite sufficient to determine whatever indecision he might have
heretofore experienced, and to lead him to devote exclusively to her
every hope and feeling of his heart. In short, he was as much in love as
a Dutchman could be. He was not long in making his passion known to
the pretty maiden herself, and his declaration was followed by a
corresponding confession upon her part.

Schalken, however, was a poor man, and he possessed no counterbalancing
advantages of birth or position to induce the old man to consent to
a union which must involve his niece and ward in the strugglings and
difficulties of a young and nearly friendless artist. He was, therefore,
to wait until time had furnished him with opportunity, and accident with
success; and then, if his labours were found sufficiently lucrative, it
was to be hoped that his proposals might at least be listened to by her
jealous guardian. Months passed away, and, cheered by the smiles of the
little Rose, Schalken's labours were redoubled, and with such effect and
improvement as reasonably to promise the realisation of his hopes,
and no contemptible eminence in his art, before many years should have
elapsed.

The even course of this cheering prosperity was, however, destined to
experience a sudden and formidable interruption, and that, too, in a
manner so strange and mysterious as to baffle all investigation, and
throw upon the events themselves a shadow of almost supernatural horror.

Schalken had one evening remained in the master's studio considerably
longer than his more volatile companions, who had gladly availed
themselves of the excuse which the dusk of evening afforded, to withdraw
from their several tasks, in order to finish a day of labour in the
jollity and conviviality of the tavern.

But Schalken worked for improvement, or rather for love. Besides, he
was now engaged merely in sketching a design, an operation which,
unlike that of colouring, might be continued as long as there was light
sufficient to distinguish between canvas and charcoal. He had not then,
nor, indeed, until long after, discovered the peculiar powers of
his pencil, and he was engaged in composing a group of extremely
roguish-looking and grotesque imps and demons, who were inflicting
various ingenious torments upon a perspiring and pot-bellied St.
Anthony, who reclined in the midst of them, apparently in the last stage
of drunkenness.

The young artist, however, though incapable of executing, or even of
appreciating, anything of true sublimity, had nevertheless discernment
enough to prevent his being by any means satisfied with his work; and
many were the patient erasures and corrections which the limbs and
features of saint and devil underwent, yet all without producing in
their new arrangement anything of improvement or increased effect.

The large, old-fashioned room was silent, and, with the exception of
himself, quite deserted by its usual inmates. An hour had passed--nearly
two--without any improved result. Daylight had already declined, and
twilight was fast giving way to the darkness of night. The patience
of the young man was exhausted, and he stood before his unfinished
production, absorbed in no very pleasing ruminations, one hand buried
in the folds of his long dark hair, and the other holding the piece of
charcoal which had so ill executed its office, and which he now rubbed,
without much regard to the sable streaks which it produced, with
irritable pressure upon his ample Flemish inexpressibles.

'Pshaw!' said the young man aloud, 'would that picture, devils, saint,
and all, were where they should be--in hell!'

A short, sudden laugh, uttered startlingly close to his ear, instantly
responded to the ejaculation.

The artist turned sharply round, and now for the first time became aware
that his labours had been overlooked by a stranger.

Within about a yard and a half, and rather behind him, there stood what
was, or appeared to be, the figure of an elderly man: he wore a short
cloak, and broad-brimmed hat with a conical crown, and in his hand,
which was protected with a heavy, gauntlet-shaped glove, he carried a
long ebony walking-stick, surmounted with what appeared, as it glittered
dimly in the twilight, to be a massive head of gold, and upon his
breast, through the folds of the cloak, there shone what appeared to be
the links of a rich chain of the same metal.

The room was so obscure that nothing further of the appearance of the
figure could be ascertained, and the face was altogether overshadowed
by the heavy flap of the beaver which overhung it, so that not a feature
could be discerned. A quantity of dark hair escaped from beneath this
sombre hat, a circumstance which, connected with the firm, upright
carriage of the intruder, proved that his years could not yet exceed
threescore or thereabouts.

There was an air of gravity and importance about the garb of this
person, and something indescribably odd, I might say awful, in the
perfect, stone-like movelessness of the figure, that effectually checked
the testy comment which had at once risen to the lips of the irritated
artist. He therefore, as soon as he had sufficiently recovered the
surprise, asked the stranger, civilly, to be seated, and desired to know
if he had any message to leave for his master.

'Tell Gerard Douw,' said the unknown, without altering his attitude in
the smallest degree, 'that Mynher Vanderhauseny of Rotterdam, desires
to speak with him to-morrow evening at this hour, and, if he please, in
this room, upon matters of weight--that is all. Good-night.'

The stranger, having finished this message, turned abruptly, and, with a
quick but silent step, quitted the room, before Schalken had time to say
a word in reply.

The young man felt a curiosity to see in what direction the burgher of
Rotterdam would turn on quitting the studio, and for that purpose he
went directly to the window which commanded the door.

A lobby of considerable extent intervened between the inner door of the
painter's room and the street entrance, so that Schalken occupied the
post of observation before the old man could possibly have reached the
street.

He watched in vain, however. There was no other mode of exit.

Had the old man vanished, or was he lurking about the recesses of the
lobby for some bad purpose? This last suggestion filled the mind of
Schalken with a vague horror, which was so unaccountably intense as to
make him alike afraid to remain in the room alone and reluctant to pass
through the lobby.

However, with an effort which appeared very disproportioned to the
occasion, he summoned resolution to leave the room, and, having
double-locked the door and thrust the key in his pocket, without looking
to the right or left, he traversed the passage which had so recently,
perhaps still, contained the person of his mysterious visitant, scarcely
venturing to breathe till he had arrived in the open street.

'Mynher Vanderhausen,' said Gerard Douw within himself, as the appointed
hour approached, 'Mynher Vanderhausen of Rotterdam! I never heard of the
man till yesterday. What can he want of me? A portrait, perhaps, to be
painted; or a younger son or a poor relation to be apprenticed; or a
collection to be valued; or--pshaw I there's no one in Rotterdam to
leave me a legacy. Well, whatever the business may be, we shall soon
know it all.'

It was now the close of day, and every easel, except that of Schalken,
was deserted. Gerard Douw was pacing the apartment with the restless
step of impatient expectation, every now and then humming a passage from
a piece of music which he was himself composing; for, though no great
proficient, he admired the art; sometimes pausing to glance over the
work of one of his absent pupils, but more frequently placing himself at
the window, from whence he might observe the passengers who threaded the
obscure by-street in which his studio was placed.

'Said you not, Godfrey,' exclaimed Douw, after a long and fruitless gaze
from his post of observation, and turning to Schalken--'said you not the
hour of appointment was at about seven by the clock of the Stadhouse?'

'It had just told seven when I first saw him, sir,' answered the
student.

'The hour is close at hand, then,' said the master, consulting
a horologe as large and as round as a full-grown orange. 'Mynher
Vanderhausen, from Rotterdam--is it not so?'

'Such was the name.'

'And an elderly man, richly clad?' continued Douw.

'As well as I might see,' replied his pupil; 'he could not be young, nor
yet very old neither, and his dress was rich and grave, as might become
a citizen of wealth and consideration.'

At this moment the sonorous boom of the Stadhouse clock told, stroke
after stroke, the hour of seven; the eyes of both master and student
were directed to the door; and it was not until the last peal of the old
bell had ceased to vibrate, that Douw exclaimed:

'So, so; we shall have his worship presently--that is, if he means to
keep his hour; if not, thou mayst wait for him, Godfrey, if you court
the acquaintance of a capricious burgomaster. As for me, I think our
old Leyden contains a sufficiency of such commodities, without an
importation from Rotterdam.'

Schalken laughed, as in duty bound; and after a pause of some minutes,
Douw suddenly exclaimed:

'What if it should all prove a jest, a piece of mummery got up by
Vankarp, or some such worthy! I wish you had run all risks, and
cudgelled the old burgomaster, stadholder, or whatever else he may
be, soundly. I would wager a dozen of Rhenish, his worship would have
pleaded old acquaintance before the third application.'

'Here he comes, sir,' said Schalken, in a low admonitory tone; and
instantly, upon turning towards the door, Gerard Douw observed the same
figure which had, on the day before, so unexpectedly greeted the vision
of his pupil Schalken.

There was something in the air and mien of the figure which at once
satisfied the painter that there was no mummery in the case, and that
he really stood in the presence of a man of worship; and so, without
hesitation, he doffed his cap, and courteously saluting the stranger,
requested him to be seated.

The visitor waved his hand slightly, as, if in acknowledgment of the
courtesy, but remained standing.

'I have the honour to see Mynher Vanderhausen, of Rotterdam?' said
Gerard Douw.

'The same,' was the laconic reply of his visitant.

'I understand your worship desires to speak with me,' continued Douw,
'and I am here by appointment to wait your commands.'

'Is that a man of trust?' said Vanderhausen, turning towards Schalken,
who stood at a little distance behind his master.

'Certainly,' replied Gerard.

'Then let him take this box and get the nearest jeweller or goldsmith to
value its contents, and let him return hither with a certificate of the
valuation.'

At the same time he placed a small case, about nine inches square, in
the hands of Gerard Douw, who was as much amazed at its weight as at the
strange abruptness with which it was handed to him.

In accordance with the wishes of the stranger, he delivered it into the
hands of Schalken, and repeating HIS directions, despatched him upon the
mission.

Schalken disposed his precious charge securely beneath the folds of his
cloak, and rapidly traversing two or three narrow streets, he stopped at
a corner house, the lower part of which was then occupied by the shop of
a Jewish goldsmith.

Schalken entered the shop, and calling the little Hebrew into the
obscurity of its back recesses, he proceeded to lay before him
Vanderhausen's packet.

On being examined by the light of a lamp, it appeared entirely cased
with lead, the outer surface of which was much scraped and soiled, and
nearly white with age. This was with difficulty partially removed, and
disclosed beneath a box of some dark and singularly hard wood; this,
too, was forced, and after the removal of two or three folds of linen,
its contents proved to be a mass of golden ingots, close packed, and, as
the Jew declared, of the most perfect quality.

Every ingot underwent the scrutiny of the little Jew, who seemed to
feel an epicurean delight in touching and testing these morsels of the
glorious metal; and each one of them was replaced in the box with the
exclamation:

'Mein Gott, how very perfect! not one grain of alloy--beautiful,
beautiful!'

The task was at length finished, and the Jew certified under his hand
the value of the ingots submitted to his examination to amount to many
thousand rix-dollars.

With the desired document in his bosom, and the rich box of gold
carefully pressed under his arm, and concealed by his cloak, he retraced
his way, and entering the studio, found his master and the stranger in
close conference.

Schalken had no sooner left the room, in order to execute the commission
he had taken in charge, than Vanderhausen addressed Gerard Douw in the
following terms:

'I may not tarry with you to-night more than a few minutes, and so I
shall briefly tell you the matter upon which I come. You visited the
town of Rotterdam some four months ago, and then I saw in the church of
St. Lawrence your niece, Rose Velderkaust. I desire to marry her, and if
I satisfy you as to the fact that I am very wealthy--more wealthy than
any husband you could dream of for her--I expect that you will forward
my views to the utmost of your authority. If you approve my proposal,
you must close with it at once, for I cannot command time enough to wait
for calculations and delays.'

Gerard Douw was, perhaps, as much astonished as anyone could be by the
very unexpected nature of Mynher Vanderhausen's communication; but he
did not give vent to any unseemly expression of surprise, for besides
the motives supplied by prudence and politeness, the painter experienced
a kind of chill and oppressive sensation, something like that which
is supposed to affect a man who is placed unconsciously in immediate
contact with something to which he has a natural antipathy--an undefined
horror and dread while standing in the presence of the eccentric
stranger, which made him very unwilling to say anything which might
reasonably prove offensive.

'I have no doubt,' said Gerard, after two or three prefatory hems, 'that
the connection which you propose would prove alike advantageous and
honourable to my niece; but you must be aware that she has a will of her
own, and may not acquiesce in what WE may design for her advantage.'

'Do not seek to deceive me, Sir Painter,' said Vanderhausen; 'you are
her guardian--she is your ward. She is mine if YOU like to make her so.'

The man of Rotterdam moved forward a little as he spoke, and Gerard
Douw, he scarce knew why, inwardly prayed for the speedy return of
Schalken.

'I desire,' said the mysterious gentleman, 'to place in your hands at
once an evidence of my wealth, and a security for my liberal dealing
with your niece. The lad will return in a minute or two with a sum in
value five times the fortune which she has a right to expect from a
husband. This shall lie in your hands, together with her dowry, and you
may apply the united sum as suits her interest best; it shall be all
exclusively hers while she lives. Is that liberal?'

Douw assented, and inwardly thought that fortune had been
extraordinarily kind to his niece. The stranger, he thought, must be
both wealthy and generous, and such an offer was not to be despised,
though made by a humourist, and one of no very prepossessing presence.

Rose had no very high pretensions, for she was almost without dowry;
indeed, altogether so, excepting so far as the deficiency had been
supplied by the generosity of her uncle. Neither had she any right to
raise any scruples against the match on the score of birth, for her
own origin was by no means elevated; and as to other objections, Gerard
resolved, and, indeed, by the usages of the time was warranted in
resolving, not to listen to them for a moment.

'Sir,' said he, addressing the stranger, 'your offer is most liberal,
and whatever hesitation I may feel in closing with it immediately,
arises solely from my not having the honour of knowing anything of your
family or station. Upon these points you can, of course, satisfy me
without difficulty?'

'As to my respectability,' said the stranger, drily, 'you must take that
for granted at present; pester me with no inquiries; you can discover
nothing more about me than I choose to make known. You shall have
sufficient security for my respectability--my word, if you are
honourable: if you are sordid, my gold.'

'A testy old gentleman,' thought Douw; 'he must have his own way. But,
all things considered, I am justified in giving my niece to him. Were
she my own daughter, I would do the like by her. I will not pledge
myself unnecessarily, however.'

'You will not pledge yourself unnecessarily,' said Vanderhausen,
strangely uttering the very words which had just floated through
the mind of his companion; 'but you will do so if it IS necessary, I
presume; and I will show you that I consider it indispensable. If the
gold I mean to leave in your hands satisfy you, and if you desire that
my proposal shall not be at once withdrawn, you must, before I leave
this room, write your name to this engagement.'

Having thus spoken, he placed a paper in the hands of Gerard, the
contents of which expressed an engagement entered into by Gerard
Douw, to give to Wilken Vanderhausen, of Rotterdam, in marriage, Rose
Velderkaust, and so forth, within one week of the date hereof.

While the painter was employed in reading this covenant, Schalken, as
we have stated, entered the studio, and having delivered the box and
the valuation of the Jew into the hands of the stranger, he was about
to retire, when Vanderhausen called to him to wait; and, presenting the
case and the certificate to Gerard Douw, he waited in silence until he
had satisfied himself by an inspection of both as to the value of the
pledge left in his hands. At length he said:

'Are you content?'

The painter said he would fain have an other day to consider.

'Not an hour,' said the suitor, coolly.

'Well, then,' said Douw, 'I am content; it is a bargain.'

'Then sign at once,' said Vanderhausen; 'I am weary.'

At the same time he produced a small case of writing materials, and
Gerard signed the important document.

'Let this youth witness the covenant,' said the old man; and Godfrey
Schalken unconsciously signed the instrument which bestowed upon another
that hand which he had so long regarded as the object and reward of all
his labours.

The compact being thus completed, the strange visitor folded up the
paper, and stowed it safely in an inner pocket.

'I will visit you to-morrow night, at nine of the clock, at your house,
Gerard Douw, and will see the subject of our contract. Farewell.' And so
saying, Wilken Vanderhausen moved stiffly, but rapidly out of the room.

Schalken, eager to resolve his doubts, had placed himself by the window
in order to watch the street entrance; but the experiment served only
to support his suspicions, for the old man did not issue from the
door. This was very strange, very odd, very fearful. He and his master
returned together, and talked but little on the way, for each had his
own subjects of reflection, of anxiety, and of hope.

Schalken, however, did not know the ruin which threatened his cherished
schemes.

Gerard Douw knew nothing of the attachment which had sprung up between
his pupil and his niece; and even if he had, it is doubtful whether
he would have regarded its existence as any serious obstruction to the
wishes of Mynher Vanderhausen.

Marriages were then and there matters of traffic and calculation; and
it would have appeared as absurd in the eyes of the guardian to make a
mutual attachment an essential element in a contract of marriage, as
it would have been to draw up his bonds and receipts in the language of
chivalrous romance.

The painter, however, did not communicate to his niece the important
step which he had taken in her behalf, and his resolution arose not from
any anticipation of opposition on her part, but solely from a ludicrous
consciousness that if his ward were, as she very naturally might do, to
ask him to describe the appearance of the bridegroom whom he destined
for her, he would be forced to confess that he had not seen his face,
and, if called upon, would find it impossible to identify him.

Upon the next day, Gerard Douw having dined, called his niece to him,
and having scanned her person with an air of satisfaction, he took
her hand, and looking upon her pretty, innocent face with a smile of
kindness, he said:

'Rose, my girl, that face of yours will make your fortune.' Rose blushed
and smiled. 'Such faces and such tempers seldom go together, and, when
they do, the compound is a love-potion which few heads or hearts can
resist. Trust me, thou wilt soon be a bride, girl. But this is trifling,
and I am pressed for time, so make ready the large room by eight o'clock
to-night, and give directions for supper at nine. I expect a friend
to-night; and observe me, child, do thou trick thyself out handsomely. I
would not have him think us poor or sluttish.'

With these words he left the chamber, and took his way to the room to
which we have already had occasion to introduce our readers--that in
which his pupils worked.

When the evening closed in, Gerard called Schalken, who was about to
take his departure to his obscure and comfortless lodgings, and asked
him to come home and sup with Rose and Vanderhausen.

The invitation was of course accepted, and Gerard Douw and his pupil
soon found themselves in the handsome and somewhat antique-looking room
which had been prepared for the reception of the stranger.

A cheerful wood-fire blazed in the capacious hearth; a little at
one side an oldfashioned table, with richly-carved legs, was
placed--destined, no doubt, to receive the supper, for which
preparations were going forward; and ranged with exact regularity,
stood the tall-backed chairs, whose ungracefulness was more than
counterbalanced by their comfort.

The little party, consisting of Rose, her uncle, and the artist, awaited
the arrival of the expected visitor with considerable impatience.

Nine o'clock at length came, and with it a summons at the street-door,
which, being speedily answered, was followed by a slow and emphatic
tread upon the staircase; the steps moved heavily across the lobby,
the door of the room in which the party which we have described were
assembled slowly opened, and there entered a figure which startled,
almost appalled, the phlegmatic Dutchmen, and nearly made Rose scream
with affright; it was the form, and arrayed in the garb, of Mynher
Vanderhausen; the air, the gait, the height was the same, but the
features had never been seen by any of the party before.

The stranger stopped at the door of the room, and displayed his form and
face completely. He wore a dark-coloured cloth cloak, which was short
and full, not falling quite to the knees; his legs were cased in dark
purple silk stockings, and his shoes were adorned with roses of the
same colour. The opening of the cloak in front showed the under-suit to
consist of some very dark, perhaps sable material, and his hands were
enclosed in a pair of heavy leather gloves which ran up considerably
above the wrist, in the manner of a gauntlet. In one hand he carried
his walking-stick and his hat, which he had removed, and the other
hung heavily by his side. A quantity of grizzled hair descended in long
tresses from his head, and its folds rested upon the plaits of a stiff
ruff, which effectually concealed his neck.

So far all was well; but the face!--all the flesh of the face was
coloured with the bluish leaden hue which is sometimes produced by the
operation of metallic medicines administered in excessive quantities;
the eyes were enormous, and the white appeared both above and below the
iris, which gave to them an expression of insanity, which was heightened
by their glassy fixedness; the nose was well enough, but the mouth
was writhed considerably to one side, where it opened in order to give
egress to two long, discoloured fangs, which projected from the upper
jaw, far below the lower lip; the hue of the lips themselves bore the
usual relation to that of the face, and was consequently nearly black.
The character of the face was malignant, even satanic, to the last
degree; and, indeed, such a combination of horror could hardly be
accounted for, except by supposing the corpse of some atrocious
malefactor, which had long hung blackening upon the gibbet, to have at
length become the habitation of a demon--the frightful sport of Satanic
possession.

It was remarkable that the worshipful stranger suffered as little as
possible of his flesh to appear, and that during his visit he did not
once remove his gloves.

Having stood for some moments at the door, Gerard Douw at length
found breath and collectedness to bid him welcome, and, with a mute
inclination of the head, the stranger stepped forward into the room.

There was something indescribably odd, even horrible, about all his
motions, something undefinable, that was unnatural, unhuman--it was
as if the limbs were guided and directed by a spirit unused to the
management of bodily machinery.

The stranger said hardly anything during his visit, which did not exceed
half an hour; and the host himself could scarcely muster courage enough
to utter the few necessary salutations and courtesies: and, indeed, such
was the nervous terror which the presence of Vanderhausen inspired, that
very little would have made all his entertainers fly bellowing from the
room.

They had not so far lost all self-possession, however, as to fail to
observe two strange peculiarities of their visitor.

During his stay he did not once suffer his eyelids to close, nor even
to move in the slightest degree; and further, there was a death-like
stillness in his whole person, owing to the total absence of the heaving
motion of the chest, caused by the process of respiration.

These two peculiarities, though when told they may appear trifling,
produced a very striking and unpleasant effect when seen and
observed. Vanderhausen at length relieved the painter of Leyden of his
inauspicious presence; and with no small gratification the little party
heard the street-door close after him.

'Dear uncle,' said Rose, 'what a frightful man! I would not see him
again for the wealth of the States!'

'Tush, foolish girl!' said Douw, whose sensations were anything but
comfortable. 'A man may be as ugly as the devil, and yet if his heart
and actions are good, he is worth all the pretty-faced, perfumed puppies
that walk the Mall. Rose, my girl, it is very true he has not thy pretty
face, but I know him to be wealthy and liberal; and were he ten times
more ugly----'

'Which is inconceivable,' observed Rose.

'These two virtues would be sufficient,' continued her uncle, 'to
counterbalance all his deformity; and if not of power sufficient
actually to alter the shape of the features, at least of efficacy enough
to prevent one thinking them amiss.'

'Do you know, uncle,' said Rose, 'when I saw him standing at the door,
I could not get it out of my head that I saw the old, painted, wooden
figure that used to frighten me so much in the church of St. Laurence of
Rotterdam.'

Gerard laughed, though he could not help inwardly acknowledging the
justness of the comparison. He was resolved, however, as far as he
could, to check his niece's inclination to ridicule the ugliness of her
intended bridegroom, although he was not a little pleased to observe
that she appeared totally exempt from that mysterious dread of the
stranger which, he could not disguise it from himself, considerably
affected him, as also his pupil Godfrey Schalken.

Early on the next day there arrived, from various quarters of the town,
rich presents of silks, velvets, jewellery, and so forth, for Rose; and
also a packet directed to Gerard Douw, which, on being opened, was found
to contain a contract of marriage, formally drawn up, between Wilken
Vanderhausen of the Boom-quay, in Rotterdam, and Rose Velderkaust of
Leyden, niece to Gerard Douw, master in the art of painting, also of
the same city; and containing engagements on the part of Vanderhausen
to make settlements upon his bride, far more splendid than he had before
led her guardian to believe likely, and which were to be secured to her
use in the most unexceptionable manner possible--the money being placed
in the hands of Gerard Douw himself.

I have no sentimental scenes to describe, no cruelty of guardians, or
magnanimity of wards, or agonies of lovers. The record I have to make is
one of sordidness, levity, and interest. In less than a week after the
first interview which we have just described, the contract of marriage
was fulfilled, and Schalken saw the prize which he would have risked
anything to secure, carried off triumphantly by his formidable rival.

For two or three days he absented himself from the school; he then
returned and worked, if with less cheerfulness, with far more dogged
resolution than before; the dream of love had given place to that of
ambition.

Months passed away, and, contrary to his expectation, and, indeed, to
the direct promise of the parties, Gerard Douw heard nothing of his
niece, or her worshipful spouse. The interest of the money, which was
to have been demanded in quarterly sums, lay unclaimed in his hands. He
began to grow extremely uneasy.

Mynher Vanderhausen's direction in Rotterdam he was fully possessed
of. After some irresolution he finally determined to journey thither--a
trifling undertaking, and easily accomplished--and thus to satisfy
himself of the safety and comfort of his ward, for whom he entertained
an honest and strong affection.

His search was in vain, however. No one in Rotterdam had ever heard of
Mynher Vanderhausen.

Gerard Douw left not a house in the Boom-quay untried; but all in vain.
No one could give him any information whatever touching the object of
his inquiry; and he was obliged to return to Leyden, nothing wiser than
when he had left it.

On his arrival he hastened to the establishment from which Vanderhausen
had hired the lumbering though, considering the times, most luxurious
vehicle which the bridal party had employed to convey them to Rotterdam.
From the driver of this machine he learned, that having proceeded by
slow stages, they had late in the evening approached Rotterdam; but that
before they entered the city, and while yet nearly a mile from it, a
small party of men, soberly clad, and after the old fashion, with peaked
beards and moustaches, standing in the centre of the road, obstructed
the further progress of the carriage. The driver reined in his horses,
much fearing, from the obscurity of the hour, and the loneliness of the
road, that some mischief was intended.

His fears were, however, somewhat allayed by his observing that these
strange men carried a large litter, of an antique shape, and which they
immediately set down upon the pavement, whereupon the bridegroom, having
opened the coach-door from within, descended, and having assisted his
bride to do likewise, led her, weeping bitterly and wringing her hands,
to the litter, which they both entered. It was then raised by the men
who surrounded it, and speedily carried towards the city, and before it
had proceeded many yards the darkness concealed it from the view of the
Dutch charioteer.

In the inside of the vehicle he found a purse, whose contents more than
thrice paid the hire of the carriage and man. He saw and could tell
nothing more of Mynher Vanderhausen and his beautiful lady. This mystery
was a source of deep anxiety and almost of grief to Gerard Douw.

There was evidently fraud in the dealing of Vanderhausen with him,
though for what purpose committed he could not imagine. He greatly
doubted how far it was possible for a man possessing in his countenance
so strong an evidence of the presence of the most demoniac feelings, to
be in reality anything but a villain; and every day that passed without
his hearing from or of his niece, instead of inducing him to forget his
fears, on the contrary tended more and more to exasperate them.

The loss of his niece's cheerful society tended also to depress his
spirits; and in order to dispel this despondency, which often crept upon
his mind after his daily employment was over, he was wont frequently
to prevail upon Schalken to accompany him home, and by his presence to
dispel, in some degree, the gloom of his otherwise solitary supper.

One evening, the painter and his pupil were sitting by the fire, having
accomplished a comfortable supper, and had yielded to that silent
pensiveness sometimes induced by the process of digestion, when their
reflections were disturbed by a loud sound at the street-door, as if
occasioned by some person rushing forcibly and repeatedly against it.
A domestic had run without delay to ascertain the cause of the
disturbance, and they heard him twice or thrice interrogate the
applicant for admission, but without producing an answer or any
cessation of the sounds.

They heard him then open the hall-door, and immediately there followed a
light and rapid tread upon the staircase. Schalken laid his hand on his
sword, and advanced towards the door. It opened before he reached it,
and Rose rushed into the room. She looked wild and haggard, and pale
with exhaustion and terror; but her dress surprised them as much even
as her unexpected appearance. It consisted of a kind of white woollen
wrapper, made close about the neck, and descending to the very ground.
It was much deranged and travel-soiled. The poor creature had hardly
entered the chamber when she fell senseless on the floor. With some
difficulty they succeeded in reviving her, and on recovering her senses
she instantly exclaimed, in a tone of eager, terrified impatience:

'Wine, wine, quickly, or I'm lost!'

Much alarmed at the strange agitation in which the call was made, they
at once administered to her wishes, and she drank some wine with a haste
and eagerness which surprised them. She had hardly swallowed it, when
she exclaimed, with the same urgency:

'Food, food, at once, or I perish!'

A considerable fragment of a roast joint was upon the table, and
Schalken immediately proceeded to cut some, but he was anticipated; for
no sooner had she become aware of its presence than she darted at it
with the rapacity of a vulture, and, seizing it in her hands she tore
off the flesh with her teeth and swallowed it.

When the paroxysm of hunger had been a little appeased, she appeared
suddenly to become aware how strange her conduct had been, or it may
have been that other more agitating thoughts recurred to her mind, for
she began to weep bitterly and to wring her hands.

'Oh! send for a minister of God,' said she; 'I am not safe till he
comes; send for him speedily.'

Gerard Douw despatched a messenger instantly, and prevailed on his niece
to allow him to surrender his bedchamber to her use; he also persuaded
her to retire to it at once and to rest; her consent was extorted upon
the condition that they would not leave her for a moment.

'Oh that the holy man were here!' she said; 'he can deliver me. The dead
and the living can never be one--God has forbidden it.'

With these mysterious words she surrendered herself to their guidance,
and they proceeded to the chamber which Gerard Douw had assigned to her
use.

'Do not--do not leave me for a moment,' said she. 'I am lost for ever if
you do.'

Gerard Douw's chamber was approached through a spacious apartment, which
they were now about to enter. Gerard Douw and Schalken each carried
a was candle, so that a sufficient degree of light was cast upon all
surrounding objects. They were now entering the large chamber, which,
as I have said, communicated with Douw's apartment, when Rose suddenly
stopped, and, in a whisper which seemed to thrill with horror, she said:

'O God! he is here--he is here! See, see--there he goes!'

She pointed towards the door of the inner room, and Schalken thought he
saw a shadowy and ill-defined form gliding into that apartment. He
drew his sword, and raising the candle so as to throw its light with
increased distinctness upon the objects in the room, he entered the
chamber into which the shadow had glided. No figure was there--nothing
but the furniture which belonged to the room, and yet he could not be
deceived as to the fact that something had moved before them into the
chamber.

A sickening dread came upon him, and the cold perspiration broke out in
heavy drops upon his forehead; nor was he more composed when he heard
the increased urgency, the agony of entreaty, with which Rose implored
them not to leave her for a moment.

'I saw him,' said she. 'He's here! I cannot be deceived--I know him.
He's by me--he's with me--he's in the room. Then, for God's sake, as you
would save, do not stir from beside me!'

They at length prevailed upon her to lie down upon the bed, where she
continued to urge them to stay by her. She frequently uttered incoherent
sentences, repeating again and again, 'The dead and the living cannot be
one--God has forbidden it!' and then again, 'Rest to the wakeful--sleep
to the sleep-walkers.'

These and such mysterious and broken sentences she continued to utter
until the clergyman arrived.

Gerard Douw began to fear, naturally enough, that the poor girl, owing
to terror or ill-treatment, had become deranged; and he half suspected,
by the suddenness of her appearance, and the unseasonableness of the
hour, and, above all, from the wildness and terror of her manner, that
she had made her escape from some place of confinement for lunatics, and
was in immediate fear of pursuit. He resolved to summon medical advice
as soon as the mind of his niece had been in some measure set at rest
by the offices of the clergyman whose attendance she had so earnestly
desired; and until this object had been attained, he did not venture to
put any questions to her, which might possibly, by reviving painful or
horrible recollections, increase her agitation.

The clergyman soon arrived--a man of ascetic countenance and venerable
age--one whom Gerard Douw respected much, forasmuch as he was a veteran
polemic, though one, perhaps, more dreaded as a combatant than beloved
as a Christian--of pure morality, subtle brain, and frozen heart. He
entered the chamber which communicated with that in which Rose reclined,
and immediately on his arrival she requested him to pray for her, as
for one who lay in the hands of Satan, and who could hope for
deliverance--only from heaven.

That our readers may distinctly understand all the circumstances of the
event which we are about imperfectly to describe, it is necessary to
state the relative position of the parties who were engaged in it. The
old clergyman and Schalken were in the anteroom of which we have already
spoken; Rose lay in the inner chamber, the door of which was open; and
by the side of the bed, at her urgent desire, stood her guardian; a
candle burned in the bedchamber, and three were lighted in the outer
apartment.

The old man now cleared his voice, as if about to commence; but before
he had time to begin, a sudden gust of air blew out the candle which
served to illuminate the room in which the poor girl lay, and she, with
hurried alarm, exclaimed:

'Godfrey, bring in another candle; the darkness is unsafe.'

Gerard Douw, forgetting for the moment her repeated injunctions in the
immediate impulse, stepped from the bedchamber into the other, in order
to supply what she desired.

'O God I do not go, dear uncle!' shrieked the unhappy girl; and at the
same time she sprang from the bed and darted after him, in order, by her
grasp, to detain him.

But the warning came too late, for scarcely had he passed the threshold,
and hardly had his niece had time to utter the startling exclamation,
when the door which divided the two rooms closed violently after him, as
if swung to by a strong blast of wind.

Schalken and he both rushed to the door, but their united and desperate
efforts could not avail so much as to shake it.

Shriek after shriek burst from the inner chamber, with all the piercing
loudness of despairing terror. Schalken and Douw applied every energy
and strained every nerve to force open the door; but all in vain.

There was no sound of struggling from within, but the screams seemed to
increase in loudness, and at the same time they heard the bolts of the
latticed window withdrawn, and the window itself grated upon the sill as
if thrown open.

One LAST shriek, so long and piercing and agonised as to be scarcely
human, swelled from the room, and suddenly there followed a death-like
silence.

A light step was heard crossing the floor, as if from the bed to the
window; and almost at the same instant the door gave way, and,
yielding to the pressure of the external applicants, they were nearly
precipitated into the room. It was empty. The window was open, and
Schalken sprang to a chair and gazed out upon the street and canal
below. He saw no form, but he beheld, or thought he beheld, the waters
of the broad canal beneath settling ring after ring in heavy circular
ripples, as if a moment before disturbed by the immersion of some large
and heavy mass.

No trace of Rose was ever after discovered, nor was anything certain
respecting her mysterious wooer detected or even suspected; no clue
whereby to trace the intricacies of the labyrinth and to arrive at a
distinct conclusion was to be found. But an incident occurred, which,
though it will not be received by our rational readers as at all
approaching to evidence upon the matter, nevertheless produced a strong
and a lasting impression upon the mind of Schalken.

Many years after the events which we have detailed, Schalken, then
remotely situated, received an intimation of his father's death, and of
his intended burial upon a fixed day in the church of Rotterdam. It was
necessary that a very considerable journey should be performed by the
funeral procession, which, as it will readily be believed, was not very
numerously attended. Schalken with difficulty arrived in Rotterdam
late in the day upon which the funeral was appointed to take place. The
procession had not then arrived. Evening closed in, and still it did not
appear.

Schalken strolled down to the church--he found it open--notice of the
arrival of the funeral had been given, and the vault in which the body
was to be laid had been opened. The official who corresponds to our
sexton, on seeing a well-dressed gentleman, whose object was to attend
the expected funeral, pacing the aisle of the church, hospitably invited
him to share with him the comforts of a blazing wood fire, which, as
was his custom in winter time upon such occasions, he had kindled on the
hearth of a chamber which communicated, by a flight of steps, with the
vault below.

In this chamber Schalken and his entertainer seated themselves, and
the sexton, after some fruitless attempts to engage his guest in
conversation, was obliged to apply himself to his tobacco-pipe and can
to solace his solitude.

In spite of his grief and cares, the fatigues of a rapid journey of
nearly forty hours gradually overcame the mind and body of Godfrey
Schalken, and he sank into a deep sleep, from which he was awakened by
some one shaking him gently by the shoulder. He first thought that the
old sexton had called him, but HE was no longer in the room.

He roused himself, and as soon as he could clearly see what was around
him, he perceived a female form, clothed in a kind of light robe of
muslin, part of which was so disposed as to act as a veil, and in
her hand she carried a lamp. She was moving rather away from him, and
towards the flight of steps which conducted towards the vaults.

Schalken felt a vague alarm at the sight of this figure, and at the
same time an irresistible impulse to follow its guidance. He followed
it towards the vaults, but when it reached the head of the stairs, he
paused; the figure paused also, and, turning gently round, displayed,
by the light of the lamp it carried, the face and features of his first
love, Rose Velderkaust. There was nothing horrible, or even sad, in the
countenance. On the contrary, it wore the same arch smile which used to
enchant the artist long before in his happy days.

A feeling of awe and of interest, too intense to be resisted, prompted
him to follow the spectre, if spectre it were. She descended the
stairs--he followed; and, turning to the left, through a narrow passage,
she led him, to his infinite surprise, into what appeared to be an
oldfashioned Dutch apartment, such as the pictures of Gerard Douw have
served to immortalise.

Abundance of costly antique furniture was disposed about the room, and
in one corner stood a four-post bed, with heavy black-cloth curtains
around it; the figure frequently turned towards him with the same arch
smile; and when she came to the side of the bed, she drew the curtains,
and by the light of the lamp which she held towards its contents, she
disclosed to the horror-stricken painter, sitting bolt upright in the
bed, the livid and demoniac form of Vanderhausen. Schalken had hardly
seen him when he fell senseless upon the floor, where he lay until
discovered, on the next morning, by persons employed in closing the
passages into the vaults. He was lying in a cell of considerable size,
which had not been disturbed for a long time, and he had fallen beside
a large coffin which was supported upon small stone pillars, a security
against the attacks of vermin.

To his dying day Schalken was satisfied of the reality of the vision
which he had witnessed, and he has left behind him a curious evidence of
the impression which it wrought upon his fancy, in a painting executed
shortly after the event we have narrated, and which is valuable as
exhibiting not only the peculiarities which have made Schalken's
pictures sought after, but even more so as presenting a portrait, as
close and faithful as one taken from memory can be, of his early love,
Rose Velderkaust, whose mysterious fate must ever remain matter of
speculation.

The picture represents a chamber of antique masonry, such as might be
found in most old cathedrals, and is lighted faintly by a lamp carried
in the hand of a female figure, such as we have above attempted to
describe; and in the background, and to the left of him who examines the
painting, there stands the form of a man apparently aroused from sleep,
and by his attitude, his hand being laid upon his sword, exhibiting
considerable alarm: this last figure is illuminated only by the expiring
glare of a wood or charcoal fire.

The whole production exhibits a beautiful specimen of that artful and
singular distribution of light and shade which has rendered the name
of Schalken immortal among the artists of his country. This tale is
traditionary, and the reader will easily perceive, by our studiously
omitting to heighten many points of the narrative, when a little
additional colouring might have added effect to the recital, that
we have desired to lay before him, not a figment of the brain, but a
curious tradition connected with, and belonging to, the biography of a
famous artist.



SCRAPS OF HIBERNIAN BALLADS.

     Being an Eighth Extract from the Legacy of the late Francis
     Purcell, P. P. of Drumcoolagh.

I have observed, my dear friend, among other grievous misconceptions
current among men otherwise well-informed, and which tend to degrade the
pretensions of my native land, an impression that there exists no such
thing as indigenous modern Irish composition deserving the name of
poetry--a belief which has been thoughtlessly sustained and confirmed
by the unconscionable literary perverseness of Irishmen themselves, who
have preferred the easy task of concocting humorous extravaganzas,
which caricature with merciless exaggeration the pedantry, bombast, and
blunders incident to the lowest order of Hibernian ballads, to the more
pleasurable and patriotic duty of collecting together the many, many
specimens of genuine poetic feeling, which have grown up, like its wild
flowers, from the warm though neglected soil of Ireland.

In fact, the productions which have long been regarded as pure samples
of Irish poetic composition, such as 'The Groves of Blarney,' and 'The
Wedding of Ballyporeen,' 'Ally Croker,' etc., etc., are altogether
spurious, and as much like the thing they call themselves 'as I to
Hercules.'

There are to be sure in Ireland, as in all countries, poems which
deserve to be laughed at. The native productions of which I speak,
frequently abound in absurdities--absurdities which are often, too,
provokingly mixed up with what is beautiful; but I strongly and
absolutely deny that the prevailing or even the usual character of Irish
poetry is that of comicality. No country, no time, is devoid of real
poetry, or something approaching to it; and surely it were a strange
thing if Ireland, abounding as she does from shore to shore with all
that is beautiful, and grand, and savage in scenery, and filled with
wild recollections, vivid passions, warm affections, and keen sorrow,
could find no language to speak withal, but that of mummery and jest.
No, her language is imperfect, but there is strength in its rudeness,
and beauty in its wildness; and, above all, strong feeling flows through
it, like fresh fountains in rugged caverns.

And yet I will not say that the language of genuine indigenous Irish
composition is always vulgar and uncouth: on the contrary, I am in
possession of some specimens, though by no means of the highest order as
to poetic merit, which do not possess throughout a single peculiarity
of diction. The lines which I now proceed to lay before you, by way
of illustration, are from the pen of an unfortunate young man, of very
humble birth, whose early hopes were crossed by the untimely death of
her whom he loved. He was a self-educated man, and in after-life rose
to high distinctions in the Church to which he devoted himself--an
act which proves the sincerity of spirit with which these verses were
written.

 'When moonlight falls on wave and wimple,
 And silvers every circling dimple,
     That onward, onward sails:
 When fragrant hawthorns wild and simple
     Lend perfume to the gales,
 And the pale moon in heaven abiding,
 O'er midnight mists and mountains riding,
 Shines on the river, smoothly gliding
     Through quiet dales,

 'I wander there in solitude,
 Charmed by the chiming music rude
     Of streams that fret and flow.
 For by that eddying stream SHE stood,
     On such a night I trow:
 For HER the thorn its breath was lending,
 On this same tide HER eye was bending,
 And with its voice HER voice was blending
     Long, long ago.

 Wild stream! I walk by thee once more,
 I see thy hawthorns dim and hoar,
     I hear thy waters moan,
 And night-winds sigh from shore to shore,
     With hushed and hollow tone;
 But breezes on their light way winging,
 And all thy waters heedless singing,
 No more to me are gladness bringing--
     I am alone.

 'Years after years, their swift way keeping,
 Like sere leaves down thy current sweeping,
     Are lost for aye, and sped--
 And Death the wintry soil is heaping
     As fast as flowers are shed.
 And she who wandered by my side,
 And breathed enchantment o'er thy tide,
 That makes thee still my friend and guide--
     And she is dead.'


These lines I have transcribed in order to prove a point which I have
heard denied, namely, that an Irish peasant--for their author was no
more--may write at least correctly in the matter of measure, language,
and rhyme; and I shall add several extracts in further illustration of
the same fact, a fact whose assertion, it must be allowed, may
appear somewhat paradoxical even to those who are acquainted, though
superficially, with Hibernian composition. The rhymes are, it must be
granted, in the generality of such productions, very latitudinarian
indeed, and as a veteran votary of the muse once assured me, depend
wholly upon the wowls (vowels), as may be seen in the following stanza
of the famous 'Shanavan Voicth.'

 '"What'll we have for supper?"
     Says my Shanavan Voicth;
 "We'll have turkeys and roast BEEF,
 And we'll eat it very SWEET,
 And then we'll take a SLEEP,"
     Says my Shanavan Voicth.'


But I am desirous of showing you that, although barbarisms may and do
exist in our native ballads, there are still to be found exceptions
which furnish examples of strict correctness in rhyme and metre. Whether
they be one whit the better for this I have my doubts. In order to
establish my position, I subjoin a portion of a ballad by one Michael
Finley, of whom more anon. The GENTLEMAN spoken of in the song is Lord
Edward Fitzgerald.

 'The day that traitors sould him and inimies bought him,
     The day that the red gold and red blood was paid--
 Then the green turned pale and thrembled like the dead leaves in
Autumn,     And the heart an' hope iv Ireland in the could grave was
laid.

 'The day I saw you first, with the sunshine fallin' round ye,
     My heart fairly opened with the grandeur of the view:
 For ten thousand Irish boys that day did surround ye,
     An' I swore to stand by them till death, an' fight for you.

 'Ye wor the bravest gentleman, an' the best that ever stood,
     And your eyelid never thrembled for danger nor for dread,
 An' nobleness was flowin' in each stream of your blood--
     My bleasing on you night au' day, an' Glory be your bed.

 'My black an' bitter curse on the head, an' heart, an' hand,
     That plotted, wished, an' worked the fall of this Irish hero
bold;     God's curse upon the Irishman that sould his native land,
 An' hell consume to dust the hand that held the thraitor's
gold.'


Such were the politics and poetry of Michael Finley, in his day,
perhaps, the most noted song-maker of his country; but as genius is
never without its eccentricities, Finley had his peculiarities, and
among these, perhaps the most amusing was his rooted aversion to pen,
ink, and paper, in perfect independence of which, all his compositions
were completed. It is impossible to describe the jealousy with which
he regarded the presence of writing materials of any kind, and his ever
wakeful fears lest some literary pirate should transfer his oral poetry
to paper--fears which were not altogether without warrant, inasmuch as
the recitation and singing of these original pieces were to him a source
of wealth and importance. I recollect upon one occasion his detecting me
in the very act of following his recitation with my pencil and I shall
not soon forget his indignant scowl, as stopping abruptly in the midst
of a line, he sharply exclaimed:

'Is my pome a pigsty, or what, that you want a surveyor's ground-plan of
it?'

Owing to this absurd scruple, I have been obliged, with one exception,
that of the ballad of 'Phaudhrig Crohoore,' to rest satisfied with such
snatches and fragments of his poetry as my memory could bear away--a
fact which must account for the mutilated state in which I have been
obliged to present the foregoing specimen of his composition.

It was in vain for me to reason with this man of metres upon the
unreasonableness of this despotic and exclusive assertion of copyright.
I well remember his answer to me when, among other arguments, I urged
the advisability of some care for the permanence of his reputation, as a
motive to induce him to consent to have his poems written down, and thus
reduced to a palpable and enduring form.

'I often noticed,' said he, 'when a mist id be spreadin', a little
brier to look as big, you'd think, as an oak tree; an' same way, in the
dimmness iv the nightfall, I often seen a man tremblin' and crassin'
himself as if a sperit was before him, at the sight iv a small thorn
bush, that he'd leap over with ase if the daylight and sunshine was in
it. An' that's the rason why I think it id be better for the likes iv me
to be remimbered in tradition than to be written in history.'

Finley has now been dead nearly eleven years, and his fame has not
prospered by the tactics which he pursued, for his reputation, so
far from being magnified, has been wholly obliterated by the mists of
obscurity.

With no small difficulty, and no inconsiderable manoeuvring, I succeeded
in procuring, at an expense of trouble and conscience which you will no
doubt think but poorly rewarded, an accurate 'report' of one of his most
popular recitations. It celebrates one of the many daring exploits of
the once famous Phaudhrig Crohoore (in prosaic English, Patrick Connor).
I have witnessed powerful effects produced upon large assemblies by
Finley's recitation of this poem which he was wont, upon pressing
invitation, to deliver at weddings, wakes, and the like; of course the
power of the narrative was greatly enhanced by the fact that many of his
auditors had seen and well knew the chief actors in the drama.


'PHAUDHRIG CROHOORE.

 Oh, Phaudhrig Crohoore was the broth of a boy,
     And he stood six foot eight,
 And his arm was as round as another man's thigh,
     'Tis Phaudhrig was great,--
 And his hair was as black as the shadows of night,
 And hung over the scars left by many a fight;
 And his voice, like the thunder, was deep, strong, and loud,
 And his eye like the lightnin' from under the cloud.
 And all the girls liked him, for he could spake civil,
 And sweet when he chose it, for he was the divil.
 An' there wasn't a girl from thirty-five undher,
 Divil a matter how crass, but he could come round her.
 But of all the sweet girls that smiled on him, but one
 Was the girl of his heart, an' he loved her alone.
 An' warm as the sun, as the rock firm an' sure,
 Was the love of the heart of Phaudhrig Crohoore;
 An' he'd die for one smile from his Kathleen O'Brien,
 For his love, like his hatred, was sthrong as the lion.

 'But Michael O'Hanlon loved Kathleen as well
 As he hated Crohoore--an' that same was like hell.
 But O'Brien liked HIM, for they were the same parties,
 The O'Briens, O'Hanlons, an' Murphys, and Cartys--
 An' they all went together an' hated Crohoore,
 For it's many the batin' he gave them before;
 An' O'Hanlon made up to O'Brien, an' says he:
 "I'll marry your daughter, if you'll give her to me."
 And the match was made up, an' when Shrovetide came on,
 The company assimbled three hundred if one:
 There was all the O'Hanlons, an' Murphys, an' Cartys,
 An' the young boys an' girls av all o' them parties;
 An' the O'Briens, av coorse, gathered strong on day,
 An' the pipers an' fiddlers were tearin' away;
 There was roarin', an' jumpin', an' jiggin', an' flingin',
 An' jokin', an' blessin', an' kissin', an' singin',
 An' they wor all laughin'--why not, to be sure?--
 How O'Hanlon came inside of Phaudhrig Crohoore.
 An' they all talked an' laughed the length of the table,
 Atin' an' dhrinkin' all while they wor able,
 And with pipin' an' fiddlin' an' roarin' like tundher,
 Your head you'd think fairly was splittin' asundher;
 And the priest called out, "Silence, ye blackguards, agin!"
 An' he took up his prayer-book, just goin' to begin,
 An' they all held their tongues from their funnin' and bawlin',
 So silent you'd notice the smallest pin fallin';

 An' the priest was just beg'nin' to read, whin the door
 Sprung back to the wall, and in walked Crohoore--
 Oh! Phaudhrig Crohoore was the broth of a boy,
 Ant he stood six foot eight,
 An' his arm was as round as another man's thigh,
 'Tis Phaudhrig was great--
 An' he walked slowly up, watched by many a bright eye,
 As a black cloud moves on through the stars of the sky,
 An' none sthrove to stop him, for Phaudhrig was great,
 Till he stood all alone, just apposit the sate
 Where O'Hanlon and Kathleen, his beautiful bride,
 Were sitting so illigant out side by side;
 An' he gave her one look that her heart almost broke,
 An' he turned to O'Brien, her father, and spoke,
 An' his voice, like the thunder, was deep, sthrong, and loud,
 An' his eye shone like lightnin' from under the cloud:
 "I didn't come here like a tame, crawlin' mouse,
 But I stand like a man in my inimy's house;
 In the field, on the road, Phaudhrig never knew fear,
 Of his foemen, an' God knows he scorns it here;

 So lave me at aise, for three minutes or four,
 To spake to the girl I'll never see more."
 An' to Kathleen he turned, and his voice changed its tone,
 For he thought of the days when he called her his own,
 An' his eye blazed like lightnin' from under the cloud
 On his false-hearted girl, reproachful and proud,
 An' says he: "Kathleen bawn, is it thrue what I hear,
 That you marry of your free choice, without threat or fear?
 If so, spake the word, an' I'll turn and depart,
 Chated once, and once only by woman's false heart."
 Oh! sorrow and love made the poor girl dumb,
 An' she thried hard to spake, but the words wouldn't come,
 For the sound of his voice, as he stood there fornint her,
 Wint could on her heart as the night wind in winther.
 An' the tears in her blue eyes stood tremblin' to flow,
 And pale was her cheek as the moonshine on snow;
 Then the heart of bould Phaudhrig swelled high in its place,
 For he knew, by one look in that beautiful face,

 That though sthrangers an' foemen their pledged hands might
sever, Her true heart was his, and his only, for ever.
 An' he lifted his voice, like the agle's hoarse call,
 An' says Phaudhrig, "She's mine still, in spite of yez all!"
 Then up jumped O'Hanlon, an' a tall boy was he,
 An' he looked on bould Phaudhrig as fierce as could be,
 An' says he, "By the hokey! before you go out,
 Bould Phaudhrig Crohoore, you must fight for a bout."
 Then Phaudhrig made answer: "I'll do my endeavour,"
 An' with one blow he stretched bould O'Hanlon for ever.
 In his arms he took Kathleen, an' stepped to the door;
 And he leaped on his horse, and flung her before;
 An' they all were so bother'd, that not a man stirred
 Till the galloping hoofs on the pavement were heard.
 Then up they all started, like bees in the swarm,
 An' they riz a great shout, like the burst of a storm,
 An' they roared, and they ran, and they shouted galore;
 But Kathleen and Phaudhrig they never saw more.

 'But them days are gone by, an' he is no more;
 An' the green-grass is growin' o'er Phaudhrig Crohoore,
 For he couldn't be aisy or quiet at all;
 As he lived a brave boy, he resolved so to fall.
 And he took a good pike--for Phaudhrig was great--
 And he fought, and he died in the year ninety-eight.
 An' the day that Crohoore in the green field was killed,
 A sthrong boy was sthretched, and a sthrong heart was stilled.'


It is due to the memory of Finley to say that the foregoing ballad,
though bearing throughout a strong resemblance to Sir Walter Scott's
'Lochinvar,' was nevertheless composed long before that spirited
production had seen the light.





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